Go to contents

Oligopolistic banking and telecom markets to break down

Posted February. 16, 2023 07:49,   

Updated February. 16, 2023 07:49


South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol on Wednesday ordered related agencies to plan and report special measures to help strengthen an effective competitive system in the oligopoly-based fields of banking and telecommunications. The presidential office and the administration plan to create an environment where new businesses enter and contribute to competition as part of their efforts to weaken the oligopolistic markets exclusively led by the top five banks and three telecom carriers.

President Yoon presided over the 13th meeting to discuss how to tackle living costs at the presidential office in Yongsan, central Seoul. At a press briefing, Choi Sang-mok, senior presidential secretary for economic affairs, said that President Yoon talked to the governors of the Financial Supervisory Service, the Financial Supervisory Service, and the Science and ICT minister during the meeting. The secretary quoted him saying, “The financial and telecom industries are characteristic of public services but maintain an oligopolistic platform thanks to the government’s special permit. “President Yoon has kept strongly arguing that measures should be devised to make a difference in the situation where the oligopoly system brings profits exclusively to businesses while customers do not enjoy any improvement in the efficacy of services," a person related to the presidential office said.

“The banking industry dominated by a handful of businesses involves many issues,” President Yoon reportedly said. He called on banks to decrease loan deposit margins and protect vulnerable debtors from ensuring that financial burdens are lessened on customers’ shoulders. As for mobile expenses, he ordered that more options be given to choosing a wider range of plans; there should be greater competition in the market, and mobile plans be divided into a larger number of brackets to lower the burden of related costs. He seemingly intended to bring more competition to the telecom market, in effect dominated by the three carriers, SK Telecoms, KT, and LG Uplus, for the sake of customers’ benefits and conveniences.

The government also considers changing the oligopolistic banking system led by Shinhan Bank, KB Kookmin Bank, Hana Bank, Woori Bank, and NongHyup Bank to make the market competitive. “If the government ends up with unsatisfactory measures to lay the foundation for a substantive level of competition, it can start to explore ways to open the door to new entrants in the banking industry,” said a governmental official. It was also reported that there would be discussions on allowing a new telecom carrier to debut as the 4th player to increase competition in the current market. He explained that the aim is to find ways to address the consequences of oligopolistic markets.

Kwan-Seok Jang jks@donga.com