Payments Trends in South Korea: Out with the Old, In with the New

by KyongSun Kong,  Neil Katkov, PhD, July 29, 2010
Industry Trends


In recent years, South Korea has seen the ascendance of new methods that are redefining its payments market. In 2009, a record-breaking 53.4% of private consumption was paid for with a card of some type.

In a new report, Payments Trends in South Korea: Out with the Old, In with the New, Celent provides a detailed analysis of the newest trends and future developments in the nation’s payments market. Paying for goods and services with cards is a practice that has largely permeated South Korean society as well as consumer buying patterns. The use of cards has been encouraged by preferential measures and government and bank policies.

A Celent series of interviews with South Korean consumers found that the majority of participants used a credit card. The next most popular means of payment was the “check card,” a new type of debit card that is unique to South Korea. A significant portion of consumers responded that they actively use cards because they offer benefits such as reward points or special discounts.

 Source: Celent consumer survey

“In the South Korean payments market, growth is anticipated in the debit card, mobile banking, and contactless payment sectors,” says KyongSun Kong, Analyst with Celent’s Asian Financial Services Group and coauthor of the report. “The industry also harbors high expectations for the future of incipient business models and, as such, the change that is afoot in the payments market warrants a closer look.”

In this report, Celent presents findings that highlight the burgeoning growth of electronic forms of payment and the factors fueling this growth, including direct efforts by the central government to promote the electronic payments industry. The report analyzes distinguishing characteristics of the market and the conditions of and prospects for multiple payment methods, with a special emphasis on areas in which solid growth is expected moving forward.  

Celent is a research and advisory firm dedicated to helping financial institutions formulate comprehensive business and technology strategies. Celent publishes reports identifying trends and best practices in financial services technology and conducts consulting engagements for financial institutions looking to use technology to enhance existing business processes or launch new business strategies. With a team of internationally based analysts, Celent is uniquely positioned to offer strategic advice and market insights on a global basis. Celent is a member of the Oliver Wyman Group, which is a wholly-owned operating unit of Marsh & McLennan Companies [NYSE: MMC].

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Table of Contents

Executive Summary




Payments Trends Through the Eyes of Consumers


Payments Systems in South Korea


Global ATM Powerhouse


Growing by Leaps and Bounds: Cards in South Korea



Credit Cards



Debit Cards


The Ever-Growing Online Banking Market


New Developments in the Check and Promissory Note Market


The Challenge of E-Money



The Stalled E-Cash Market



Burgeoning Prepaid E-Payment Card Market




Leveraging Celent’s Expertise



Support for Financial Institutions



Support for Vendors


Related Celent Research


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