The rumor about Apple Pay coming to South Korea has been around for years and the unproven story became real in early February when South Korea's Financial Services Commission (FSC) said that it took relevant procedures required for the new digital payment service and domestic credit card companies can soon introduce Apple Pay.
Users of Apple devices including iPhones and iPads can use Apple Pay to make quick and easy payments at online and offline stores. About 30 percent of smartphone users use iPhones in South Korea with some 54 million registered smartphones. According to Wiseapp, a digital market analysis company, there were 14.5 million monthly active users of Samsung Pay in July 2021.
Apple and Hyundai Card, a credit card service wing of Hyundai's auto group, said in a statement on February 8 that Apple Pay will be released in South Korea soon and details will be revealed later. Some industry officials predict that Apple Pay is likely to be introduced in the South Korean market in early March.
Apple Pay uses near-field communication (NFC) to connect a store's point-of-sale (POS) system to a phone. However, only about 10 percent of South Korea's POS is equipped with NFC as Samsung Pay, the country's most popular offline digital payment service, uses the magnetic secure transmission (MST) method that makes Samsung phones mimic the features of a magnetic strip on an actual credit card.
In late 2022, Hyundai Card tried to distribute NFC devices to large stores while trying to win an exclusive deal with Apple. However, the plan was foiled when the state financial watchdog warned that Hyundai Card distributing NFC devices could violate regulations set by the credit finance act. Hyundai Card received the final approval from the FSC to adopt Apple Pay after the company gave up on winning the exclusive deal and allowing all other credit card companies to adopt Apple Pay together.
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