How majority of korean mobile phone owners utilize mobile payment service

Most South Korean smartphone users have used mobile payment system and they plan to do so more because of its convenience. According to a poll conducted by local market tracker DMC Media on Tuesday, 79.1 percent of the 282 respondents said they used mobile payment service such as Samsung Pay and Kakao Pay at least once over the last six months. Of all female respondents, 87.3 percent had the experience, 14.9 percentage points more than 72.4 percent of male users.

The mobile simple payment service was in the highest use by those who are in their 30s as 85.7 percent of the 30-something respondents said they used the service, followed by those in their 20s with 82.4 percent and 40s with 68.5 percent.


About eight out of 10 respondents said they opted for the easy payment system via mobile devices due to its convenience. The second most common reason, with 42.2 percent response rate, was no need to carry physical cash or plastic cards, followed by promotional benefits (35.0 percent) and simple registration (34.1 percent).

More than half of the respondents, 60.5 percent, said they are willing to make more payments using mobile wallets, and 38.6 percent would maintain their current usage. Just 0.9 percent said they would cut down the use of mobile payment.

“Users place great importance on service convenience and security when it comes to mobile payment (휴대폰소액결제),” according to an official from DMC Media. “Service providers need to improve features related to private information protection and transaction reliability.”

Korea pushed its residents towards payment cards for more than a decade.  Financial inclusion is at the top of the order with more than 95% of its residents having a financial account.  Three-quarters of the country use debit cards and more than half own credit cards (신용카드현금화).

The country rebounded after the Asian financial crisis nearly two decades ago.  Infrastructure and government support is robust. One of the reasons government supported the propagation of electronic payments is to bring more businesses onto the tax rolls. The beauty of a QR-based acceptance system is that swipes and EMV inserts are not required.  Merchants and consumers transact cell phone to cell phone.  It comes in handy if you are a fisherman selling product in a remote location, or a small merchant that does not want the telephony infrastructure required with a terminal.  Also, it is inexpensive.

However, for now, this Zero Pay has the opportunity for a wide range of card acceptance points, using low-cost QR code technology.  It will operate outside the bounds of branded network payment cards (문화상품권) and is something to watch as we move towards the next decade.

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