KB Bank to launch South Korea’s first crypto investment fund


The investment fund will be the first offered by a bank in the country and is expected to include a type of crypto index and ETFs.

Kookmin Bank is preparing to become the first bank in South Korea to offer crypto investment products to retail investors. 

KB announced on Feb. 21 that it had formed a Digital Asset Management Preparatory Committee to determine product and strategy capabilities regarding digital assets and artificial intelligence investment funds. The bank expects to launch crypto exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and futures products. The committee will also assess risk and compliance issues for the investment funds.

The plans were confirmed by KB’s Head of Index Quant Management Honggun Kim in the official release from the bank. He said, “We will launch a virtual asset-themed equity fund, etc. We plan to publish periodicals as well.”

KB Financial Group, the country’s largest by net profit, had about $520 billion in total assets as of September 2021 according to the research platform MacroTrends.

The current plans are to launch a crypto investment index fund and a fund that utilizes an Outsourced Chief Investment Officer (OCIO), also referred to as outsourced investment management, in order to provide guarantees on principal investments. The OCIO fund may also be used in retirement pensions.

Such OCIO that may be considered includes Grayscale and Fidelity Asset Management, each of which offers crypto investment funds. Fidelity Canada launched a spot Bitcoin ETF last December though such a product has yet to be approved in the U.S.

In launching a new investment fund for its customers, KB is responding to a market that has become increasingly receptive to crypto and nonfungible token (NFT) investments. Close competitor, Shinhan Bank, has dedicated an entire section of its mobile banking app to help customers manage their NFT collections on Klaytn, the country’s leading blockchain. 

Related: SEC chair hints at no spot Bitcoin ETFs yet, but cites ‘careful consideration’ for future

KB is now following Singaporean megabank DBS by announcing new retail crypto investment products. DBS Bank CEO Piyush Gupta stated on Feb. 14 that the bank would work to scale its crypto operations in 2022.