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PyeongChang Games change the way we pay

Swipe a glove, or at any GS25, pay with your home currency
Feb 20,2018
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Left: A customer makes a transaction with a payment-enabled glove at a store. Right: A customer pays with foreign currency at a GS25 that installed a system to directly accept major currencies. [VISA, GS RETAIL]
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At the Olympics Super Store in Pyeongchang County, Gangwon, where official merchandise is on sale, some customers never reach for their wallets. It’s all about the swipe - of a smartphone, a badge or even a winter glove.

For the “First Cardless Olympics,” Visa is showcasing different tap-to-pay products, many of them emblazoned with the official Soohorang mascot. In cooperation with Lotte Card, Visa is offering near-field-communication (NFC) enabled gloves, commemorative stickers and Olympic pins already loaded with credits. To make a transaction, all the customer has to do is tap the wearable device on a reader.

“I am very excited to present this innovative payment-enabled wearable technology for the Olympics, which allows visitors to make payments conveniently without conventional plastic Visa cards,” said Iain Jamieson, Country Manager for Visa Korea.

More than 100,000 wearable payment devices have been sold, according to Lotte Card. They come with four different amounts pre-loaded: 30,000 won ($28.2), 50,000 won, 100,000 won and 200,000 won. They cannot be reloaded.

The wearables are being sold in Korea at Lotte Card centers, on the Lotte card website, at Super Stores in Pyeongchang and Gangneung, and at six Visa Customer Service Centers in Gangneung.

Lotte, another official sponsor of the sports event, hopes to extend the use of the products beyond Pyeongchang.

“Visa Lotte Card Wearable combines products manufactured at the Lotte Department Store, the master licensee for the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, with payment methods,” said Kim Dae-soo, Marketing Director of the Lotte Department Store. “We will try to continue providing convenient payment experiences for Olympic visitors in Lotte Department Stores across the country,” he added.

Exchanging money is another important financial transaction for visitors from outside Korea.

The conventional way to do so is to visit a bank or currency exchange booth. But convenience store chain GS25 is helping save customers a trip to the bank by accepting major foreign currencies including euros, yen, yuan and U.S. dollars.

The exchange system includes a commission, and any change from the transaction is given in Korean won.

Exchange rates are based on daily rates from Shinhan Bank. The system started operating this month.

“After test-operating the system, we are running the new currency exchange scheme at the stores in PyeongChang and all of Korea,” Park Do-young, a spokesperson at GS25 said. “We expect that the approach will appeal to foreign customers, especially in popular destinations such as Myeong-dong in central Seoul and on Jeju Island.”

Park said tourists find it convenient while branch owners find the system easy to use.

KEB Hana Bank is experimenting with trade loyalty program reward points between different banks and retail stores abroad.

Under a consortium called Global Loyalty Network, the official sponsor is on track to build a global integrated platform that offers cross-border use of digital assets and benefits.

To put it simply, if a customer has reward points worth 10,000 won with Hana Members (Hana Bank’s loyalty program), the system will allow the customer to transfer the points for use at foreign retail shops. The platform, backed by blockchain technology, could ultimately enable peer-to-peer exchanges among different loyalty programs.

So far, more than 30 financial institutions and retail companies from some 10 countries have signed up, including Taishin International Bank in Taiwan; Siam Commercial Bank of Thailand and the country’s leading retailer Central Group; a Chinese online travel portal as well as Mizuho Bank and SuMi Trust Bank of Japan.

Targeting PyeongChang visitors, KEB Hana Bank opened a mobile coupon mall called PyeongChang Edition that is built on the Global Loyalty Network.

Customers of global partners can download different types of coupons on the platform in seven languages.

“This is the initial stage,” said a public relations official at the bank. “But we will later expand the service so that customers can send their points in different currencies or buy things in, say, Thailand’s convenience stores using the rewards.”

Chairman Kim Jung-tai is spearheading the project.

The bank signed a partnership with Oracle to support a digital system needed to build the platform based on the Global Loyalty Network.

“The partnership will enable the GLN network to expand globally,” said Kim, “At the same time, Oracle can cement its position as the leading provider of cloud systems.”


BY PARK EUN-JEE [park.eunjee@joongang.co.kr]