Fri, Aug 02, 2019 - Page 12 News List

Two new Web-only banks outline goals, hiring plans

By Kao Shih-ching  /  Staff reporter

Next Bank (將來銀行) and Rakuten International Commercial Bank Co (樂天國際商銀), two of the three Web-only banks approved by the Financial Supervisory Commission on Tuesday, yesterday said they would begin operations in the second quarter of next year.

Next Bank, led by Chunghwa Telecom Co (中華電信), plans to concentrate on retail banking and provide deposit and small loan services, as well as sell insurance products, board director Liu I-cheng (劉奕成) told a news conference in Taipei.

The bank would first provide small loans to employees of Chunghwa Telecom and the supermarket chain operator Pxmart Co (全聯實業), general manager Jacob Mei (梅驊) said.

It might check the applicants’ work hour records as part of assessment for credit performance, but it would seek consent from applicants first, Mei said.

“In the past, most banks passively waited for customers to apply for a loan, but we will ask prospective clients whether they need money,” Mei said.

The bank said it also plans to set up an insurance unit by partnering with insurers to provide new products, in addition to teaming up with mobile payment providers such as Pxmart’s PX Pay.

Next Bank has 65 employees and plans to recruit 135 more before commencing formal operations, with its headcount expected to reach 450 within five years, chief operating officer John Chuang (莊瑞德) said.

The bank has set a target of 1 million clients within two years and expects to break even in three to five years, Mei said.

Rakuten International Commercial Bank, which is 51 percent owned by Japanese e-commerce company Rakuten Inc and 49 percent by IBF Financial Holdings Co (國票金控), has a different recruitment strategy.

It plans to hire up to 60 people before beginning formal operations and recruit 60 more in the first year, with its headcount expected to be at the most 200, executive vice president Andrew Chiu (邱銘恩) said.

“Web-only banks should be innovative and provide service completely online. If a virtual bank hires a lot of people, it would be no different from conventional banks,” Chiu said.

Rakuten International Commercial Bank would introduce a system equipped with artificial intelligence from Japan’s Rakuten to assess its clients’ credit performance, IBF Financial chairman Wea Chi-lin (魏啟林) said.

It aims to attract at least 500,000 clients in the first year of operation and hopes to break even by the third year, Wea said.

IBF and Rakuten have spent more than NT$100 million (US$3.21 million) building its own information system, in cooperation with IBM Corp, he said.

Line Financial Taiwan Corp’s (台灣連線金融科技) Line Bank (連線商業銀行) was the third virtual bank to be approved by the commission.

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