Kakao, the operator of South Korea's largest mobile messaging app, has joined with Chinese e-commerce outfit Tencent and online flea market eBay to bid for a new Internet banking license.
Kakao is one of three bidders to have come forward so far this year to stake a claim for the two banking licenses that are up for grabs from the country's Financial Services Commission. South Korean corporations KT and Interpark are also known to have thrown their hats in the ring.
Kakao already has form in financial services. In November, the company teamed up with 16 banks to launch a mobile wallet service for online, offline and person-to-person payments.
A Kakao spokeseman confirmed the tie up with eBay and Tencent to Reuters, saying that both companies would each take stakes of less than four percent in the new entity should a license be granted.
A decision on the winning bids is expected next year.
Separately, the Wall Street Journal reports that Tencent is in talks to invest in Fenquile, a Chinese startup that lends money to students, as the Internet giant broadens its reach into financial services. Tencent already operates its own internet bank, Webank, which opened for business at the start of the year.