As for ownership structure, Viva Republica slashed its majority stake by almost 50%. When it resubmitted its application, the fintech unicorn only held 34% of Toss Bank, compared to 60% previously. The Toss consortium includes four financial-services incumbents as well: Standard Chartered, KEB Hana Bank, Welcome Savings Bank and Hanwha Investment & Securities.
Viva Republica launched Toss in 2015 as a peer-to-peer (P2P) money transfer service. Since then, it has expanded into a broader digital banking platform offering more than 40 financial services, including financial dashboard, credit score management and payments. Toss claims 30 million downloads and 16 million registered users, about 20% of the South Korean population.
“Toss has already become the leading financial super app in Korea. With (the) digital bank license, we will be able to broaden our product offering even, so that we can accelerate our mission to innovate the financial industry,” SG Lee, CEO of Viva Republica, said in a statement.
Toss's valuation climbed to US$2.2 billion in August 2019, following a $64 million fundraising round led by Hong Kong-based Aspex Management.
The FSC's approval of Toss should intensify competition in South Korea's banking sector, where demand for digital services is robust. The country is among the world's most connected, with the highest internet speeds globally and a smartphone penetration rate of about 75%. Toss is Korea's third neobank after K-Bank and Kakao Bank.
From January to June 2019, the value of daily money transfers via smartphone apps reached 200.5 billion won, up 60.7 percent from the previous six months, according to the Bank of Korea.