South Korean Banks Launched NFC Payments Service

A group of South Korean local banks have introduced BankWallet, an NFC payments service based on pre-paid accounts.

The BankWallet system is launched by Korea Financial Telecommunications and Clearings Institute (KFTC), a Korean interbank clearing house, and is backed by 16 banks.

It can store account holders’ credentials on the SIM card. The BankWallet smartphone application enables users to make financial settlements and P2P money transfers.

SK Telecom, the country’s largest mobile operator in terms of subscribers, is offering the NFC service from launch. KT, South Korea’s number two player, is aiming for an April launch. Yet LG U+, the country’s third mobile operator, is undecided about the service.

Retailers signing up to BankWallet include the Shinsegae retail chain (which operates the world’s largest department store), the Emart convenience store chain, and the Daegu department store.

In addition to NFC payments in stores, BankWallet can be used to make online purchases.

KFTC says BankWallet will be expanded to support credit cards, membership cards and coupons, as well as to enable users to withdraw cash, perform account transfers and pay bills.