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Overseas Card Spending By South Koreans Rose To Record High In 2016

By February 21, 2017 at 7:13 am
In 2016, overseas card spending by South Koreans came at US$14.3 billion, an increase of 7.8 percent from 2015, BOK data showed. (Photo : WSJ.com)

South Koreans' overseas card spending reached an all-time high last year as the number of outbound travelers climbed, according to data from the Bank of Korea released Tuesday.

Last year, overseas card spending stood at US$14.3 billion, compared to $13.26 billion in 2015 or an increase of 7.8 percent, the central bank data showed.

Purchases made using credit, debit and direct payment cards make up overseas card spending. The increase in the number of South Koreans traveling abroad was cited for the gain in the headline figure last year.

About 22.38 million South Koreans went overseas in 2015, an increase of 15.9 percent from the previous year, government data showed. Despite the overall increase in spending, the amount spent on each card dropped to $305 or down by 11.7 percent on-year, the BOK said.

Meanwhile, foreign visitors to South Korea saw an overall rise in card spending last year, though spending for each visitor declined. Non-residents in South Korea also spent more using their cards as the amount rose 6.6 percent on-year to $10.7 billion, the central bank said.

In 2015, credit card spending by foreign nationals in the country posted the sharp drop due to the outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

Card spending by foreigners stood at $10.05 billion or down by 13.2 percent on-year in 2015, according to data compiled by the Credit Finance Association.

The amount of money that foreigners paid using UnionPay cards, the most popular card among Chinese tourists, declined 7.9 percent in 2015. The decline in card spending by foreigners that year was mainly due to the lower number of tourists to South Korea, which fell 6.8 percent after the outbreak of MERS.

The number of foreign issued cards used in the country last year soared 33.8 percent from a year ago to over 54 million, though the amount spent on each card dropped to $198 or a 20.4 percent on-year decline.

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