The Korean banking system includes about 50 commercial banks, 90 mutual savings banks and 5 specialized financial institutions. The Financial Services Commission and the Financial Supervisory Service are responsible for supervising all banks. The Bank of Korea, established on June 12, 1950, is the central bank of the country. Korea’s banking sector is dominated by five major financial holding companies: KB, Shinhan, Nonghyup, Hana and Woori. Below is a list of the largest and best banks in South Korea.
KB Financial Group
KB Financial Group is the largest bank in South Korea with total assets of US$431 billion as of March 31, 2019. The company employs about 26,000 staff and is headquartered in Seoul. The Group’s subsidiaries include KB Kookmin Bank, KB Kookmin Card, KB Savings Bank, KB Securities, KB Life Insurance, KB Asset Management, KB Capital, KB Real Estate Trust and KB Insurance, among others. As of October 7, 2019, KB Financial Group had a market capitalization of US$15 billion.
Shinhan Financial Group
Shinhan Financial Group is the second largest bank in South Korea in terms of total assets. With over 21,000 employees, the Group offers retail and corporate banking services through Shinhan Bank and Jeju Bank as well as credit card services and life Insurance products through Shinhan Card and Shinhan Life Insurance, respectively. It also offers securities brokerage, asset management, leasing and equipment financing, private equity investments, mobile and online banking and much more. The company maintains a solid network of over 850 branches and service centers and over 6,000 ATMs. It has overseas subsidiaries and branches in the United States, Japan, Vietnam and other locations.
NongHyup Financial Group
NongHyup Financial Group (NHFG) is the third largest financial institution in South Korea by total assets. The Group provides personal and corporate banking, card services, foreign exchange, and other services through its eight subsidiaries: NongHyup Bank (the safest bank in Korea), NongHyup Life Insurance, NongHyup Property & Casualty Insurance, NH Investment & Securities, NH-Amundi Asset Management (number one asset manager in Korea), NH Capital, NH Savings Bank and NongHyup REITs Management (a specialized investment company in real estate finance). NongHyup Financial Group operates as a subsidiary of National Agricultural Cooperative Federation (NACF).
Hana Financial Group
Hana Financial Group, founded in 1971, is the fourth largest financial group in South Korea by assets. It provides a full range of products and services through its subsidiaries: KEB Hana Bank, KEB Hana Card, Hana Life, Hana Savings Bank, Hana Bank China, Hana Capital, Hana Asset Trust, Hana Investors Services, Hana Alternative Asset Management Co. Ltd and Hana Financial Investment Co. Ltd (formerly known as Hana Daetoo Securities). Hana Financial Group has the largest overseas network among South Korean banks. It operates about 160 outlets in 24 countries, comprising 23 branches in the Americas, 127 in the Asia-Pacific region, and 10 branches in Europe and the Middle East. In 2012, Hana Financial Group acquired Korea Exchange Bank (KEB) from Lone Star Funds and Export Import Bank of Korea.
Woori Financial Group
Woori Financial Group is the fifth largest bank in South Korea. With about 16,000 employees, the company provides a wide array of banking products and services to retail and corporate customers. The Group’s main subsidiaries are Woori Bank, Woori Credit Information Co., Woori Private Equity Asset Management, Woori Fund Service, Woori FIS and Woori Finance Research Institute, among others. As of March 31, 2019, the company had total assets of US$303 billion.
Industrial Bank of Korea
Industrial Bank of Korea (IBK), founded in 1961, is owned by the Government of the Republic of Korea. It is the only bank in Korea with a SME market share exceeding 20 percent. The company’s total loans outstanding reached US$162 billion, of which US$126 billion were SME loans. IBK operates through the following business segments: Corporate Banking, Retail Banking, Global Markets & Treasury and Investment Banking. The company has about 570 domestic branches as well as 27 overseas branches and representative offices in China, New York, London, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Hanoi, New Delhi and Manila, among others.
BNK Financial Group
BNK Financial Group (BNKFG), located in Busan, operates through the following segments: Banking Business, Specialized Credit Finance, Financial Investment and Mutual Savings Bank. The Group’s main subsidiaries are Busan Bank, Kyongnam Bank, BNK Capital, BNK Securities, BNK Savings Bank, BNK Asset Management and BNK Credit Information. The company employs 8,284 people and maintains 500 branches including 256 branches of Busan Bank, 193 branches of Kyongnam Bank and 38 branches of BNK Capital. As of March 31, 2019, the Group had US$109 billion in total assets.
DGB Financial Group
DGB Financial Group (DGBFG) is headquartered in Daegu, the fourth-largest city in South Korea after Seoul, Busan and Incheon. DGB is one of the leading regional banks in the country with US$60 billion in total assets, US$35 billion in deposits, US$36 billion in loans and US$4.3 billion in total equity.
Kakao Bank of Korea
Kakao Bank, established in 2017, is the most popular Korean online bank headquartered in Seongnam-si. With over 6 million customers, it is the second branchless bank in South Korea following K bank. It offers deposits, loans, debit cards, credit cards, offshore wire transfers and other services. Customers are allowed to withdraw and deposit money from any ATM that they wish. Kakao Bank is affiliated with South Korea’s most popular mobile messenger app KakaoTalk. KakaoBank of Korea operates as a subsidiary of Kakao Corporation, an internet company.
Updated as of October 8, 2019.