Electronic payments in South Korea increased 32.7 percent on-year in 2020, hitting a record high of 705.5 billion won ($624 million), in terms of daily average transactions, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, central bank data showed Monday.
“The social distancing measures implemented due to the spread of the COVID-19 has led to a continued expansion of contactless online transactions,” the Bank of Korea said in a statement.
The reading marked the highest amount since the BOK started collecting data on e-payments in 2007.
Electronic financial transactions refer to all internet and mobile-based payments, including purchases made with electronic credit and debit cards.
On top of it, the daily average number of electronic financial transactions increased 48.5 percent on-year to 16.79 million.
Electronic prepayment services -- allowed through mobile payment platforms such as Kakao Pay and Toss -– jumped 59.4 percent on-year to a daily average of 467.6 billion won. The daily average number of such transactions gained 6.3 percent to 18.65 million as well.
“Emergency cash handouts and regional gift vouchers distributed in the form of prepaid card was a key factor in the increase,” a BOK official said.
The National Assembly last week passed a 14.9 trillion won supplementary budget –- the fifth of its kind since the outbreak of the virus early last year -- focused on helping small businesses financially hit by COVID-19 woes. Part of it will be funneled to the government’s fourth round of emergency relief funds worth some 20 trillion won.
Excluding the latest cash handout program, the government has handed over 20 trillion won in stimulus checks to households and struggling businesses through three rounds of handouts last year. For example, stimulus checks worth a combined 14.3 trillion won were handed out to all households here in May last year in the first round of the program.
Mobile payment services -– including Kakao Pay and Toss -- gained more popularity amid the pandemic with daily average financial transactions gaining 44.4 percent on-year to 449.2 billion won.
By Jung Min-kyung (firstname.lastname@example.org