SEOUL, April 1 (Yonhap) — K-Bank, South Korea’s first internet-only bank, said Thursday its customers and deposits grew exponentially in the first quarter of the year amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The number of customers stood at 3.91 million as of the end of March, 1.72 million more than three months earlier, said the lender, which is led by telecom giant KT Corp.

The number of new customers is far more than the number it had attracted in the three years since its inception.

Outstanding customer deposits came to 8.72 trillion won (US$7.73 billion) as of end-March, up 4.97 trillion won from the end of December.

The online lender’s outstanding loans totaled 3.83 trillion won last month, up 840 billion won from three months earlier.

Industry sources said K-Bank’s exponential first-quarter growth probably resulted from its competitive deposit and lending rates, as well as its contact-free convenience.

K-Bank is owned by a consortium of telecom giant KT Corp., Woori Bank and 19 other companies. In 2017, South Korea permitted two internet-only banks — K-Bank and Kakao Bank — to offer services around the clock in an effort to inject more competition into the banking sector.

This photo, provided by K-Bank on April 1, 2021, shows its office in central Seoul. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)