Bank of Korea: Over One South Korean in Four Uses Mobile Payments

May 2, 2018         By: Steven Anderson

South Korea is widely known as a technological masterpiece of a nation; it’s enjoyed the fastest average internet connection speed in the world since 2017. With over 90 percent of the population active internet users, it’s clear connectivity is a big deal in South Korea. A new study from the Bank of Korea says that mobile payments are increasingly a big deal here as well, with over one in four citizens turning to mobile payments.

The poll, focused on 2,500 adults over 19, found that 26.1 percent of respondents had used a mobile device—smartphone, tablet or similar—to make a payment somewhere in the six months leading up to the survey. As you’d expect, age demographics made a major difference in who used what when, as those in their 20s were the most frequent users at 53.6 percent. Those in their 30s, meanwhile, weren’t far behind at 50.6 percent.

That’s where the numbers start a drop-off that resembles an action movie car chase that’s just gone off a cliff. People in their 40s only boasted 28 percent use, and those in their 50s came back with an anemic 8.5 percent. Just 2.1 percent of those over 60 were even in on the action. There was also a clear connection between high income and mobile payments use, with 40.1 percent of those earning over 60 million won—$56,098.88 US as of this writing—in on mobile payments, while just 5.5 percent of the 20 million won—$18,699.63 US—crowd could say likewise.

Granted, the Korean study isn’t exactly providing a lot of insight here; the young and wealthy overwhelmingly prefer mobile payments just about everywhere, while the older you get, the less you trust mobile. There’s something of a backlash brewing in the under-20 crowd by some indications, but for right now, mobile is a big part of the landscape and will be one for some time to come. What’s unusual in this is that South Korea doesn’t seem all that different from any other major industrialized nation.

Still, in the end, South Korea’s figures look familiar; familiar enough to suggest an almost universal commonality. Mobile payments are big with the young, and may stay so for a while…at least, until a new set of young people step into the 20-something bloc.