[News Article] Apple Pay makes Korean debut after 10-year wait
Apple Pay makes Korean debut
after 10-year wait
By Song Seung-hyun, The Korea
Herald - Global tech giant Apple kicked off its mobile payment service Apple
Pay in Korea on Tuesday, with more than 170,000 iPhone users rushing for
registration earlier in the day.
“We're so thrilled to bring
Apple Pay to our users here in Korea with Hyundai Card as our first issuer,”
Duncan Olby, who is in charge of Apple’s digital wallet services outside
America, said in a press conference held at the Hyundai Card Understage in
Itaewon, central Seoul. “Users can start paying with
Apple Pay at convenient stores like CU or GS25, coffee spots like Paul Bassett,
department stores like Lotte Department Store, or supermarkets like Costco or
Homeplus,” he added.
During the conference, Olby
also emphasized that Apple Pay values the security and privacy of its users as
much as providing convenient service. He further explained that Apple
Pay will not collect information about what its users purchase, where the
payment takes place and how much is paid.
“All that (payment) information
is between you, the merchant and your bank,” he said.
Rumors of Apply Pay launching
its Korean services had circulated for years. In December last year, Korean
financial authorities finished a review of Apple Pay’s terms and conditions,
but additional reviews on issues related to compensating local retailers--for
installing new near-field communication readers for Apple Pay--took much longer
than expected as it could be subject to antitrust scrutiny. During this additional review
process, the problem was solved as Hyundai Card gave up its exclusive
partnership with Apple Pay.
Finally, on Feb. 3, the
financial regulator announced that local credit card firms can now introduce
Hyundai Card Vice Chairman
Chung Tae-young who also took part in the press conference on Tuesday said that
he, too, has been longing to introduce the service in Korea.
“We could launch the service
before North and South Korea's reunification. We have been saying next month,
next month for years,” Chung said jokingly. Chung also said he believes
that the expansion of NFC readers will bring changes to the Korean card
industry. “We will no longer have to wait
in long lines in front of the cash register, and we won't be asked to ‘try
inserting card again.’” he said.
However, some industry insiders
see that there are still hurdles to Apple Pay's expansion here, as users
currently cannot pay using the service at stores like Korea’s top franchise
coffee chain Starbucks. This is because the necessary
payment infrastructure for Apple’s digital wallet services has not been widely
installed yet. Ahead of the launch, among some 2.9 million stores, only around
70,000 are estimated to have NFC readers that work with Apple Pay, according to
Users also cannot pay for
public transportation with Apply Pay in Korea.
This lack of infrastructure for
Apple's digital wallet is also the main reason why rival Korean credit card
issuers are still hesitant to adopt the service, the sources said. What's more, at present, almost
80 percent of smartphone users in Korea use Samsung or Android phones and
iPhone users make up less than 20 percent.
Apple Pay made its debut in
2014 but its Korean launch has long been delayed. Over the years, its archrival
Samsung Electronics’ mobile payment service Samsung Pay has enjoyed a near
monopoly on its home turf. Most recently, Samsung Pay also
formed an alliance with two top local mobile payment providers -- Kakao Pay and
Naver Pay -- to consolidate its dominant position in the country.
Meanwhile, some Apple Pay users
are reportedly experiencing payment failures on its first day of release.
"There has been a sudden
surge in customer influx, leading to some usage restrictions, and the issue is
currently being addressed," a Hyundai Card official told The Korea Herald