SOUTH Korea is keen on collaborating with Brunei to develop local startups specialising in developing ‘financial technology’ (fintech) applications in the sultanate.
The Korea Fintech Industry Association yesterday said it wants to establish partnerships with Brunei’s public and private sector to build a centre that would nurture tech startups specialising in fintech application development.
Jeon YounKab, the association’s senior advisor and director, said that South Korea is interested in a collaborative model where the technologically-advanced Asian nation provides the platform while Brunei handles its own content.
“By having a fintech centre (in Brunei), South Korean industry players can perform their research in Brunei. The Bruneian government can handle data protection and provide data… so it’s a centre with joint funding and cooperation,” Jeon told The Brunei Times on the sidelines of the Brunei-Korea ICT Conference at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) building.
Jeon said that that the proposal for the centre is only an initial idea which has yet attract the interest of South Korean fintech businesses that may want to invest in the sultanate.
“Collaboration is needed with local authorities because fintech deals a lot with government restrictions and laws,” he said in an interview.
He said that the establishment of such a centre would also make Brunei a testpad for companies to explore new developments and technologies in the financial technology sector.
Kim TaeBong, CEO of South Korean cyber-security company KTB Solution, said that Brunei’s knowledge in Islamic finance could be an area for potential collaboration.
“Basically, we (South Korea) are just bringing in the technology while you (Brunei) provide the content,” he said.
Kim said that the partnership would benefit both countries as South Korea does not have the same level of knowledge as Brunei when it comes to shariah-compliant financing.
The conference yesterday was jointly organised by the Energy and Industry Department at the PMO and the South Korean Embassy in Brunei with the goal of promoting ICT as another area for industry collaboration between the two countries.
A November 2015 report by business publication Bloomberg said that the South Korean government gave preliminary approvals to one of South Korea’s popular messaging app company KakaoTalk and second largest telco KT Corp to set up the country’s internet-only banks.
The online banks would make it easier for startups to apply for financing to help expand their businesses.
On the other hand, critics have warned against the lack of regulation on internet banks especially the ones operated by companies that are not predominantly financial institutions.