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Big data fuels fintech industry

July 11,2017
In the past few years, there have been many discussions and investments on fintech in Korea. Now, the fintech industry should not be perceived as a variation of financial industry but be considered a major axis of the fourth industrial revolution. Fintech industry’s growth is likely to make great contributions to development and enhanced competitiveness of artificial intelligence, which is a core technology of the fourth industrial revolution.

Korea takes pride in its IT industry, but Korean fintech is still insignificant, with no presence among the world’s top 100 fintech companies. Regulations related to personal information protection do not allow shared data analysis for marketing purposes. When the regulations are eased gradually, Korea’s fintech industry would become more competitive.

U.S. big data analysis services company LexisNexis had 4 trillion won ($3.48 billion) in revenue last year. The total revenue of the big data analysis industry in Korea is far less than the revenue of this one company, suggesting how far Korea is behind.

Korea’s problem is that personal information protection is incomparably stronger than any other countries. Behind the protection is the reckless abuse of personal information and leak cases in the past. But the current state calls for revisions to the regulations to better accommodate the situation.

Now, we need to normalize our perceptions of the fintech industry and personal information protection. The core of the fourth industrial revolution is the data industry. If personal information protection is emphasized and Korean industry misses the timing to grow, we may fall into the crisis of losing the initiative of the fourth industrial revolution.

*Professor of electric and information engineering at Seoul National University.

Lee Jung-woo