The Korea Herald


Apple seen gauging Apple Pay service in Korea

Launch of Android Pay likely to come earlier than Apple Pay.

By Shin Ji-hye

Published : Feb. 15, 2017 - 16:20

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Apple’s executives recently held a meeting with South Korean financial authorities, a move that can be viewed as the company testing the waters before fully reviewing a potential launch here, sources said Wednesday.

“Apple’s legal director and senior counselor came to Korea in November to have a meeting with financial authorities. They explained Apple Pay’s technical operation and security method -- tokenization,” a source familiar with the matter told The Korea Herald.

Tokenization, which Samsung Pay also uses, is the process of replacing sensitive data, such as credit card or fingerprint information, with unique identification symbols.

“Apple said they will partner with local credit card companies in the future but did not elaborate on the specific details,” the source said.

To start such a mobile payment service in Korea, the company should have another meeting with the financial authorities to decide whether it will be registered as an electronic financial business operator. Apple is not yet scheduled to have such a meeting with the government.

Currently, Samsung Pay is not registered as an electronic financial business operator because it does not benefit from financial transactions, while Naver Pay and Kakao Pay are registered as electronic financial business operators.

A user demonstrates the use of Apple Pay. (Yonhap) A user demonstrates the use of Apple Pay. (Yonhap)

Local card companies forecast that Google’s Android Pay is likely to be introduced earlier than Apple Pay in Korea.

“While the technology development with Google for Android Pay is in full swing, the work with Apple is still in an early stage,” said an anonymous official from a local card company.

Google is now working with local card companies including KB Kookmin, Shinhan, Lotte and Hyundai to develop both online and offline payment systems. In terms of offline payment, the card firms are jointly developing NFC, or near-field communication, based on a payment system with Google. The NFC-based payment system means users can transfer money by tapping their smartphone on a NFC terminal.

“When Android Pay starts the service here, it is likely to first offer online payment service because there are not yet many stores with NFC terminals in Korea,” the source from the card company said.

Samsung Pay, currently a sole offline mobile payment service here, supports Magnetic Secure Transmission, which works on any credit card terminal.

Google is expected to have a meeting soon with the Korean financial authorities to decide whether to register as an electronic financial business operator.

“Google Korea is now arranging the schedule with its headquarters to have the meeting at the request of the Korean financial authorities,” a source said.

By Shin Ji-hye (