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How S. Korea is heading toward cashless society; people carried average US$ 63 in cash in 2021 Updated: 2022-07-07 10:02:34 KST

It's a sign of the times.
People in South Korea are carrying less and less cash with them as the years tick by.
It's getting much more convenient to pay in other ways, not just by card but by smartphones as well.
But, it has reached a point where people who are used to handling cash, like senior citizens, are running into some problems.
Lee Rae-hyun reports.

The prospect of a completely cashless society is becoming increasingly more likely.
Transactions between companies are becoming less dependent on cash, and this is also evident in people's daily spending habits.

"I think cash is inconvenient in the way that people have to withdraw it from the ATM all the time. That's why I prefer using a card."

"Cards are easier to carry than cash. I have less than a dollar on me"

"Well, I think I have around 15 dollars in my wallet now."


"As you can see, people these days carry very little cash. And let me show you just how cashless modern society is.
Vendors in local markets used to accept cash only, but now they accept credit cards, too.


Vending machines used to accept coins only. But now, there's a card reader so that people can pay with their cards as well."

A report released by the Bank of Korea shows that the average amount of cash carried by people in 2021 was a little over 80 thousand Korean won or around 63 U.S. dollars.
It also says that average monthly cash payments by households stood at nearly 392 dollars in 2021.
That's down 25.4 percent from 2018.
And cash is now used for 21.6 percent of household payments, which is half of the payments made by card.

According to a BOK official developments in technology have contributed greatly to a reduced dependency on cash.

"People these days use bank transfers and credit cards more than cash. Online shopping transactions, for example, are increasing by over 20 percent every year. And COVID-19 has accelerated this, as people started to prefer non-in-person transactions."

But some say this may cause problems for the elderly.
One survey in May showed that almost all people in their 40s who were asked had used a credit card that month, compared to a little over half of people in their 70s.
To deal with the issue, the official says they are aiming to provide a cash-friendly environment for everyone.

"Last year, the BOK launched an app that shows nearby ATMs and transfer fees for each machine. This is to make cash more accessible. The BOK and other financial institutions are cooperating to help cash users who wish to continue using it."

He added that as more people use cards and digital methods of payment, government measures will be needed if the right to pay in cash is not guaranteed in society.
Lee Rae-hyun, Arirang News.
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