SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA, December 28, 2020 — The Seoul Metropolitan Government announced that it will join hands with KB Financial Group Inc., Korea Growth Investment Corporation, and Hongik University to pool their combined resources and knowhow in a joint public-private collaboration to foster fintech startups and encourage the development of the local fintech industry. The three partners signed their agreement with the city government separately to finalize their partnership on December 17.
Seoul has been laying the foundation to support fintech startups. It has promoted the Seoul Fintech Lab in Yeouido, the city’s leading finance and investment banking district, as a hub of innovation, housing 100 startups and representatives from the Financial Supervisory Service, Korea Intellectual Property Office, Korea Fintech Industry Association, and KEB Hana Bank. The city hopes that its agreement will boost trilateral cooperation between the public, academic, and industrial sectors.
The Seoul Fintech Lab has become the largest nurturing ground for fintech startups in the nation since its inauguration on April 27, 2018, with just 27 startups. It now creates a flourishing fintech ecosystem housing 100 fintech businesses and some 1,000 financial innovators.
Through the partnership agreement, Seoul and its three partners have pledged to make use of their various financial and administrative expertise and networks to provide comprehensive support ranging from business identification, nurturing, investment location, and overseas forays, as well as mutual cooperation to boost the fintech industry such as R&D support through industrial and academic collaborations and operating internships to recruit outstanding specialists.
To start off, the Seoul Metropolitan Government and KB Financial Group plan to pool resources from their respective Seoul Fintech Lab and KB’s own fintech lab KB Innovation Hub, each nominating outstanding startups as well as promoting and collaborating on mutual networks and overseas ventures. The Seoul Fintech Lab will also create a section for KB Innovation Hub within its premises, which will offer close support for resident startups at Seoul Fintech Lab.
Korea Growth Investment Corporation, an investment management firm with a 4.6 trillion won ($4.1 billion) in funds, currently operates a 300 billion won Fintech Innovation Fund to support fintech startups. Korea Growth Investment Corporation is already making strides in various collaborative fields, such as attracting investments, meet-ups, mentoring, and consultations.
Their frequent private investment relations conferences and Presentation Days throughout 2020, in particular, have featured 30 startups from the Seoul Fintech Lab and raked in 13.24 billion won in investments from venture capitals and strategic investors. The city government plans to join hands with Korea Growth Investment Corporation to hold investment events, such as venture capital meet-ups to bring together potential investors and fintech startups, thereby boosting support for competitive fintech firms.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government and Hongik University will form a joint internship program to secure budding specialists from its College of Business Administration and create collaborative and consultation programs to boost their partnership.
“This year, we managed to land collaborative agreements with Korea Credit Guarantee Fund, KEB Hana Bank, Korea Fintech Industry Association, Sungkyunkwan University, and three other institutions. It laid a solid basis for a sustainable collaborative framework between the public, industrial and academic fields,” said Kim Eui-seung, Deputy Mayor for Economic Policy at the Seoul Metropolitan Government. “We will continue to provide active support by cooperating with various related organizations and universities to strengthen our specialized support system to enable the growth of future fintech unicorns*.”
* In venture capital terms, a unicorn is a privately held startup, valued at over $1 billion.