Kakao Bank Promised More Loans for People with Fair Credit Scores, But Performed Worse Than Existing Banks
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Loans for people with fair credit scores accounted for a similar or smaller proportion of loans offered by the internet-only bank, Kakao Bank compared with other commercial banks, in the first half of this year. At the beginning of the year, Kakao Bank had announced that it would drastically increase loans to people with fair credit scores, but its performance has yet to meet the purpose of its establishment as an internet-only bank.
Justice Party lawmaker Bae Jin-gyo, a member of the parliamentary National Policy Committee, analyzed the data on bank credit and jeonse loans (loans for the lumpsum deposit when renting homes on a jeonse contract) from the Financial Supervisory Service, and according to his analysis on September 28, loans to people with fair credit scores (701-850) accounted for 14.9% of loans (outstanding) offered by seven commercial banks--KB Kookmin, Shinhan, Hana, Woori, Standard Chartered, Citi, Industrial Bank of Korea--as of the end of June. But Kakao only offered 8.5% of its loans to people with fair credit scores.
People with excellent credit scores (851 and higher) accounted for 88% of loans offered by Kakao Bank, 7.8% higher than the seven commercial banks (80.2%). When internet-only banks were established in 2017, there were high expectations for these banks to cover the blind spot in loans--loans for people with fair credit scores--neglected by commercial banks, which served people with high credit scores, and non-bank lenders, which provided loans to people with low credit scores. However in reality, the internet-only bank turned out to focus more on clients with excellent credit scores than those with lower scores.
A look at the number of accounts as of the end of June 2021 also showed that clients with high credit scores accounted for 72.3% of the loans offered by the seven commercial banks, while at Kakao Bank they accounted for 85.6%. Borrowers with fair credit scores accounted for 19.9% of the loans at the commercial banks, but only 10% at Kakao Bank.
In the case of jeonse loans, there was little difference between commercial banks and Kakao Bank, which respectively offered 18.0% and 19.4% of the loans to people with fair credit scores.
At the parliamentary inspection last year, Kakao Bank came under fire for its poor performance in loans for fair credit scores. In a meeting with the press in February 2021, Yun Ho-young, CEO of Kakao Bank announced, “We will drastically increase the percentage of loans to people with fair to low credit scores compared with 2020.” In April, the Financial Services Commission released “Improvements to Loans with Fair Interest Rates (loans with interest rates around 10% for people with fair credit scores)” and urged fintech banks to provide more loans with fair interest rates.
Lawmaker Bae Jin-gyo said, “That Kakao Bank has continued the practice of offering loans for profit just like commercial banks and that clients with excellent credit scores account for a higher percentage of loans show that the government policy to have internet-only banks handle fair interest rate loans for people with fair credit scores has failed.”
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