Chunghwa Telecom-backed internet-only bank begins full operations

Taipei, March 29 (CNA) Next Bank, owned by a consortium of commercial and financial interests led by Chunghwa Telecom, began full operations Tuesday, bringing the number of internet-only banks in Taiwan to three.

Granted a license by the Financial Supervisory Commission in December 2021, the new bank joins Rakuten International Commercial Bank and LINE Bank, which began operations in January and April 2021, respectively, in Taiwan’s internet banking market.

At a news conference Tuesday, Next Bank Chairman Chung Fu-kuei (鐘福貴) said he was targeting a customer base of 1 million over the next two years by working closely with members of the ownership consortium.

Chung’s estimates, if realized, would put Next Bank well ahead of its two rivals, LINE Bank and Rakuten International Commercial Bank.

According to FSC figures from early December, LINE Bank had 607,000 customers with deposits of NT$19.12 billion, while Rakuten International Commercial Bank had 63,000 customers and NT$5.37 billion (US$186 million) in deposits.

Led by Chunghwa Telecom, which holds a 41.9 percent stake, Next Bank’s ownership consortium also includes Mega International Commercial Bank, KGI Bank, the Shin Kong Group, hypermarket operator PX Mart, and customs clearance service provider Trade-van.com.

PX Mart Chairman Lin Ming-hsiung (林敏雄) told the press conference that the consortium would draw on both his firm’s 10 million members and Chunghwa Telecom’s estimated 10.65 million subscribers to provide support to the fledgling Next Bank.

Next Bank has also unveiled incentives for new customers, including offering 1.50 percent interest on annual deposits for accounts opened by the end of May, significantly above the range of 1.07 percent and 1.09 percent offered by the Bank of Taiwan, the country’s largest lender.

With the launch of Next Bank, 39 banks now operate in Taiwan, according to the FSC.

Other online-only banks in Taiwan

The consortium ownership model adopted by Next Bank mirrors that of its two rivals in the online-only sphere.

Rakuten International Commercial Bank is jointly owned by Rakuten Inc., with a 51 percent stake, and IBF Financial Holdings Co., which holds the remaining 49 percent.

LINE Bank, meanwhile, is majority-owned by LINE Bank (49.9 percent), and Taipei Fubon Commercial Bank (25.1 percent), with minority shareholders CTBC Bank, Union Bank of Taiwan, Standard Charter Bank, Taiwan Mobile Co., and Far EasTone Telecommunications Co. each holding a 5 percent stake.

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