June 07, 2021 12:51
Some 4.84 million new stock accounts were opened here in the first four months of this year, according to the Financial Supervisory Service, but the number of bank accounts increased by just 4.47 million.
This is the first time that stock accounts grew at a faster rate than bank accounts. Deposit accounts increased but savings accounts dwindled amid record-low interest rates. Overseas stock accounts also increased by 1.15 million during the same period.
The figures show a surging interest in stock and cryptocurrency and waning preference for bank savings.
The number of new stock accounts this year already surpassed last year's total of 4.11 million. Millions were motivated by the stock market’s bumper performance last year.
Stock accounts were opened by people of all ages, but the increase was particularly marked among the younger generation. Koreans in their 20s opened 1.16 million accounts, those in their 30s 1.26 million and those in their 40s 999,000.
But much of their investment went into a handful of stocks led by Samsung Electronics, whose small shareholders increased by a whopping 1.71 million on-year to 3.87 million in the first quarter of this year. That is the same as the entire number of accounts in small savings banks (3.91 million).
One securities industry source said, "Investing in Samsung stocks means dividends in addition to stock gains. Many people started investing in blue-chip stocks after watching friends and acquaintances achieve high returns last year."
As of the end of April, there were 27.25 million savings accounts at banks, down by around 1.68 million on-year. They declined across all age groups except for the over-80s.
Cryptocurrency accounts also began to rival bank accounts. The number of investors in cyber money stood at 5.87 million as of early May, up by around 4.2 million compared to the end of last year.
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