The Korea Herald


Kakao Pay sees foreigner usage surge in 2023

By Choi Ji-won

Published : Jan. 10, 2024 - 15:34

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Kakao Pay (Getty Images) Kakao Pay (Getty Images)

Kakao Pay, the online payment service of Korean tech giant Kakao Corp., saw exponential growth in its usage by foreign nationals last year, with the volume of monthly transactions by foreigners jumping by 14 times on-year in January.

According to the firm on Wednesday, numbers for transactions and monthly foreign users also increased by eight times each over the same period. The company declined to provide further details on the exact figures.

The firm has partnered with 12 online payment platforms in Asia and Europe -- including China's Alipay, Thailand's Truemoney and Italy's Tinaba -- to allow their users to pay in local shops via their own apps on the Korean company's payment network.

The Kakao subsidiary attributed the whopping growth to the return of tourists post-pandemic, as well as its boosted global partnerships.

Payments were mostly made in the country's tourist-centered areas, with Seoul, Gyeonggi Province and Incheon -- the wider capital area surrounding Seoul -- and Jeju Island tallying the most payments, in order, among all regions.

Foreigners paid the most through Kakao Pay in local shops and mom-and-pop stores where online payment methods were introduced first. Transactions were made the most frequently in convenience stores, followed in order by duty-free shops and department stores, while in terms of the amount, the duty-free stores racked up the highest sum, followed by department stores and small markets.

Since 2019, Kakao Pay has been expanding on its cross-border payment system, not only allowing local customers to pay more easily abroad, but also building an environment in which foreigners can pay here just as they had in their home countries.

The company anticipated more overseas partners to join the network in the future. Ultimately, it aims to cover 60 percent of all payments made by some 13 million foreign tourists to South Korea annually.

"We are striving to fulfill our duties as the only local business providing a payment network for the overseas online payment companies," an official from Kakao Pay said. "We will seek various means to provide convenience to the inbound tourists, while bolstering the sales of our local partner shops."