SEOUL, Aug. 21 (Yonhap) -- The validity period of mobile gift certificates will be lengthened to over one year, beginning next year at the earliest, government officials said Wednesday.
The Anti-Corruption & Civil Rights Commission said it has mapped out a new policy measure on the use of mobile gift certificates, together with the Fair Trade Commission (FTC), to improve the convenience of consumers.
Mobile gift certificates refer to gift vouchers that can be stored on smartphones and other mobile devices for use at cafes, bakeries, restaurants, theaters, massage parlors, hair shops and various other places.
According to government data, the nation's mobile voucher market grew robustly to 2.1 trillion won (US$1.75 billion) last year from 1.2 trillion won in 2017. Despite the growing popularity of mobile gift certificates, local consumers have been inconvenienced by their limited validity periods, ranging from 30 days to three months. The use of mobile vouchers is restricted after their expiration date passes.
The new policy guideline by the civil rights commission stipulates that the validity period of mobile gift certificates be increased to over one year, like paper gift certificates. In addition, mobile vouchers can be entirely redeemed if purchases of specific items are not possible, the watchdog agency noted. Even if the expiration data has passed, 90 percent of the balance can be refunded within five years, it said.
Based on the policy revisions by the civil rights commission, the FTC will push for the revision of standard contract terms by local business establishments.
The civil rights commission said it has received a total of 1,014 consumer complaints about the use of mobile gift certificates over the past three years, with 89.4 percent of petitioners calling for extending the validity period of mobile vouchers.
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