Cards Still the Most Preferred Cashless Payment Method
South Korea had an estimated population of 51,269,185 as of the middle of 2020, according to UN data. Based on Worldometer elaboration of the latest UN data, the country had a population of 51,297,644 in 2021, with 81.8% living in urban areas, mainly in Seoul. The median age of the population was 43.7 years.
The average annual revenue per paying user in South Korea was $1,604 in 2020, according to the PPRO APAC Report. Most cross-border e-commerce purchases by South Koreans are of products from the United States, China and Japan.
Most South Korean shoppers prefer to pay by card (73%), followed by bank transfers, e-wallets, cash and other payment methods. For cashless payments, the biggest player was Visa (37%) followed by other schemes, MasterCard, and Amex, according to the 2020 PPRO APAC Report.
According to IMF data, South Korea had a gross domestic product of $1.65 trillion in 2019, which declined to $1.59 trillion in 2020 due to the pandemic. As the economy continues to recover, the GDP is expected to expand to about $1.67 trillion in 2021.
Internet & mobile phone trends
According to Statista, 100% of the population aged 30-39 had internet access in 2019. The percentages of the rest of the population with internet access varied between 89.1% and 99.9%, while only 38.39% of those aged 70 years and above went online regularly. According to Datareportal, South Korea had 49.75 million internet users in January 2021, with an internet penetration rate of 97% in January 2021. Meanwhile, smartphone penetration stood at 94% by the end of 2020, according to the PPRO APAC Report.
According to data compiled by PPRO APAC, 95% of South Koreans had bank accounts in 2020, with 65% of them credit card holders.