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  • There is perhaps no other digital bank anywhere in the world like kakaobank. Many pure-play digital banks seem to have an in-built ceiling: at a specific point, organizational flaws appear, they cease adding new customers and start to appear more dysfunctional than disruptor.
  • For a time after its IPO in August, six-year-old branchless KakaoBank was the largest financial institution in South Korea by market capitalization. That didn’t last through the global tech stock collapse – and was always a little absurd – but the $2.2 billion IPO, which is still trading above its issue price, is a reminder of just how far this institution has come.
  • South Korea’s KakaoBank is unusual among Asian pure-play digital banks, in that it is not only growing fast but is also profitable. Having harvested the low-hanging fruit of wallet balances, it is now building higher-fee products. And last year’s listing showed just how much belief there is in the story.
  • Krafton’s forthcoming record-breaking listing is just one example of a new economy deal that is propelling primary issuance volumes in South Korea. Just wait until the chaebol join the party with their own spin-offs and EV battery deals.
  • Korea’s first two digital banks have had very different starts: one, kakaobank, is a clear success story; the other, K Bank, badly needs funding but is caught up in a problem around its would-be-biggest shareholder. Korea’s regulator is in it for the long haul and is inviting new digital banks to join them.