- Companies in Korea Are Even Giving Out Reward Points In The Form of Bitcoins
Author – Kate Yong
Big Lead with Bitcoin
As one of the most advanced and connected countries in the world as well as home to Samsung, Hyundai, LG and Kia, Korea is at the forefront of the cryptocurrency frenzy. In fact, bitcoin trades at a 16 percent premium there in comparison to the rest of the world with the Korean Won making up to 21 percent of worldwide Bitcoin (BTC) trading. This is quite a significant figure considering Korea only accounts for 1.9 percent of the world’s economy.
Determined Young South Koreans
The frenzy also has a lot to do with the determination of many young South Koreans trying to have a shot at improving their chances in a very competitive economy. With an unemployment rate of around 10 percent and an underemployment rate of around 38 percent in the most highly educated economy, 3 in 10 salaried workers have invested in cryptocurrencies with 80 percent being in their 20s and 30s. Also, being neighbours with North Korea encourages South Koreans to bank their money in a decentralised bank, Bitcoin.
Innovation Fueled By Crypto
Mirroring such figures, the adoption of cryptocurrency in Korea is particularly dynamic. For example, Wonder’s, a South Korean motorbike delivery service was the first to give out loyalty points in the form of BTC. Their CEO, Kim Chang-Soo believes that rewarding their customers with BTC is more beneficial compared with the regular discount and loyalty point rewards, which in essence is for the benefit of the provider. Wonders’ customers are rewarded with a 10% payback of their payment in BTC. While South Korea is still awaiting its government’s stance on the future of cryptocurrencies, some of her residents are bullish about the acceptance of cryptocurrencies there. Freelance driver, Hong Ji-min is willing to accept assignments paid for in cryptocurrencies if businesses follow suit.
In early 2018, popular South Korean social commerce website WeMakePrice announced a collaboration with one of the largest exchange platforms in South Korea, Bithumb to enable payment in BTC along with 11 other altcoins. But just within 10 days of the announcement, WeMakePrice backed down on the move pointing out that cryptocurrencies are too volatile at the moment as it is subject to intense speculation. This may be very prudent considering that the South Korean government is considering banning cryptocurrencies altogether.
Strengthen Crypto Payment Interface First
While there were some acceptance of BTC and Ethereum (ETH) payment seen during the Winter Olympics, it might be better to err on the side of caution. Pushing the frontier for the acceptance of cryptocurrencies while policies are still being determined internally and prices are trying to stabilize worldwide is tricky. South Korean companies are better off strengthening their tech interface and investing in integration of cryptocurrency payments for now till further notice.