Korea's best domestic bank 2019: Shinhan Bank
South Korea’s banking sector is dominated by a handful of big players that have close relationships with the country’s conglomerates. But of these players one in particular stands out for its breadth, its consistency and its eye toward future growth.
Shinhan Bank, led by chief executive officer Ok-Dong Jin, moved quickly when the digital banking trend began in Korea, following the success of online-only banks by offering its clients a Shinhan app called SOL. More than 10 million users are on the bank’s digital platform, according to its 2018 annual report.
But the bank knows that is not enough to beat the fierce competition in Korea, and it is working to improve its app and develop technology for its clients through programmes such as its Future’s Lab, which works with promising startups.
Most banks talk a good game about going digital. Shinhan is one of the few that has a realistic plan.
Its acknowledgement of its areas of expertise – and the gaps in its offering – are what make it so strong. The bank is constantly working to give its customers more, as well as improve the areas in which it is lacking. For instance, Shinhan Financial Group won regulatory approval in early 2019 to acquire Orange Life Insurance. The company, formerly known as ING Life Insurance Korea, is one of the largest insurance groups in Korea – even bigger than Shinhan’s own life insurance business – and gives Shinhan a big boost in bancassurance.
Shinhan has also positioned itself to take advantage of growth elsewhere in Asia, an important move considering Korea’s stagnant market. The bank has a presence in 20 countries, including Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar.
Shinhan Bank’s parent company, Shinhan Financial Group, reported W1.914 trillion ($1.6 billion) in net income in the first six months of 2019, up 6.6% from the first half of 2018. The bank saw marginal growth, with W1.282 trillion in net income in the first half of 2019 and reported income of W2.279 trillion for all of 2018.