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Online payments rise amid coronavirus spread: data


Under the prolonged impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, major economies around the world have seen a visible decrease in cash transactions and an equivalent rise in online payments, data showed Sunday.

According to a report issued by the Bank of Korea, major e-commercial platforms here saw their sales climb in the January-February period this year. Asia’s fourth-largest economy reported its first confirmed case of the new coronavirus on Jan. 20 and faced a rapid rise of patients in mid-February.

Payments made at Coupang stood at 1.63 trillion won ($1.32 billion) in February, up from 1.44 trillion won a month earlier, while e-Bay Korea posted 1.44 trillion won, up from 1.26 trillion won during the same period.

“Since the full-fledged spread of COVID-19, ‘untact’ payments have expanded visibly due to the public’s alert against face-to-face purchases and the consequent rise of online consumption,” said an official of the central bank.

According to Britain’s ATM network operator LINK, the volume of cash transactions in Britain has almost halved so far this year, the report showed.

Some business operators in Europe -- including France’s Louvre Museum -- have altogether banned the use of cash, seeking to prevent the spread of the epidemic.

In North America, major financial institutions such as JP Morgan Chase and Dejardins have partially shut down their offline offices and minimized face-to-face operations.

Responding to the market move, Master Card said that it will increase the limit for untact payments in 29 countries for user convenience.

The central bank also suggested that such rise of untact payments may further encourage the issuance and use of central bank digital currencies in the near future.

By Bae Hyun-jung (