Starting tomorrow, when you buy something at one of the 20,000 convenience stores across the country and pay with cash, you will not receive small change in coins, but rather have it deposited to prepaid cards, such as transportation cards.
The Bank of Korea plans to gradually expand this service to include not only convenience stores but also pharmacies and traditional markets.
Jeong Joo-hee has more.
Last year, Koreans used debit and credit cards for 66 percent of transactions, while using cash for only 26 percent.
In particular, most of the coins are not being used; only one or two of the coins issued are returned.
<Lee Seung-hyun / Daeheung-dong, Mapo-gu> “Cash makes my wallet heavier. ... I put coins away somewhere and do not actually use them.”
The Bank of Korea has announced that, beginning tomorrow, they will roll out a pilot project to bring about a "coinless society."
After purchasing something with cash at a convenience store,
<Recording> "Please deposit change here."
This is how you deposit the change in the prepaid card you want, such as transportation cards.
<Cha Hyun-jin / Head of Financial Transactions Department at Bank of Korea> "We expect that the inconvenience of having to carry coins will be greatly reduced. For the bank, we will be able to save about 60 billion won spent annually on minting coins."
For now, the project targets only about 20,000 convenience stores and some large supermarkets around the country, but the coverage will be gradually enlarged to include pharmacies and traditional markets.
However, costs like installing devices to deposit money to cards could be a great burden to small vendors, so the bank is contemplating ways to help them.
The Bank of Korea plans to launch its "coinless society" project in full scale after the method of depositing the change into bank accounts, apparently the most favored method by the public and the most cost-effective method, is introduced.
Jeong Joo-hee reporting for Yonhap News TV.
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