SK Telecom (SKT), Korea’s biggest mobile provider, is cutting a $346 million deal with Hana Financial Group to bring wide-scale NFC mobile payment to Korean wireless users, according to The Korea Times.
In the deal, SKT, owner of more than half of the country’s mobile-phone subscribers, will buy 49% of Hana Card, a marginal credit card company struggling to hold 7.4% of the Korean credit market. SKT could provide the jolt necessary to bring Hana Card to the foreground, while simultaneously using the financial service market to bring credit card functions to their 3G smart phones.
SKT’s goal is for users to leave their wallets at home. By next year SKT’s smart phones will be able make payments as well as receive location-based information on shopping venues, restaurants and other businesses.
The potential SKT-Hana market is huge, with 24 million mobile subscribers and 30 million more users of SK Group’s “OK CashBag” cards, a loyalty cash-back program that enables users to collect points at a wide-range of affiliated shops.
According to The Korea Times, SKT’s telecom rival KT is responding with its own credit deal. The second biggest mobile provider in Korea is eying BC Card, whose member banks account for 39 million customers.
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