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Bank Of Korea Selects Operators For Its Pilot To Promote Coinless Society

By March 4, 2017 at 4:10 am
The Bank of Korea aims to eventually get rid of the metal coins by 2020. (Photo : Getty Images)

The Bank of Korea, on Friday, said that it has picked the operators that will participate in its pilot project that could help bring the country into a so-called coinless society.

The project, which is set to start in April, will allow consumers to deposit loose change into their mobile or prepaid cards through participating operators that include department stores, discount stores, and convenience stores, the central bank said.

A Yonhap News Agency report said that the 12 participants that the BOK has selected for the pilot project include Lotte Department Store; E-Mart, South Korea's biggest discount store chain in terms of sales; Seven Eleven; and CU, a huge convenience store chain in the country.

Last December, the Bank of Korea announced that it will take measures that aim to eventually get rid of the metal coins by 2020. The central said that it will step up its efforts to bring down the circulation of coins, the highest denomination of which is worth no more than $0.50.

South Korea is already one of the world's least cash-dependent countries, according to a report by the Financial Times. 

In a country where online shopping and mobile payments are the norms for its tech-savvy millennials, South Korea has one of the highest rates of credit card ownership. On average, every citizen of the country owns about 1.9 credit card and only around 20 percent of purchases are made using physical cash, the BOK said.

Under the plan, the central bank wants consumers to deposit small change left from their purchases into "T-Money" cards or electronic travel passes that can be used for paying taxi rides, metro fares and purchases in about 30,000 convenience stores.

Aside from the convenience for the consumers, the plan will also save the central bank significant amount of money used to mint coins. The BOK spends over $40 million a year for mining. At the same time, it also removes the costs involved for financial institutions that manage, collect and circulate the coins. 

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