Apple Pay to Launch in South Korea November 30

Apple Pay South Korea Launch

Some have been eagerly waiting for Apple Pay to launch in South Korea. According to an ad beginning to circulate in the Samsung-dominated country, that wait could be over soon. It’s looking like Apple Pay will launch in South Korea tomorrow, Nov. 30.

Ad Banner Hints at Imminent Launch of Apple Pay in South Korea

On Monday, Twitter user @Tommyboiiiiii posted a photograph of an advertisement for Hyundai Card and Apple Pay. The image appears to be taken inside a taxi, and shows a thin banner ad for the new (to South Koreans, anyways) payment option.

The advertisement includes the date November 30, along with logos for both Apple Pay and Hyundai Card. Hyundai Card, a division of Hyundai Auto Group, is a local credit card firm in South Korea. It has an exclusive one-year contract with the iPhone maker to deliver Apple Pay to consumers in South Korea.

If this isn’t a mistake on someone’s part, the ad shows Apple Pay will go live in South Korea sometime Wednesday. Other hints at the launch nearing didn’t offer any exact timing. Even when it does go live, Apple Pay’s usability within South Korea could be rather muted.

Limited Technological Infrastructure Could Hamper the Launch

Apple Pay is already active in China, Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong. The Apple-branded digital wallet also recently went live in Malaysia. South Korea has been more of a struggle, though, because most local retailers use a different technology. While Apple Pay depends on the NFC capability built into iPhone and Apple Watch, local retailers there rely upon magnetic secure transmission technology. This allows smartphones to emit a signal mimicking the magnetic stripe on a physical payment card.

To help facilitate the new availability of Apple Pay, The Korea Herald reports that Hyundai Card “partnered with local network firms and payment terminal manufacturers to jointly develop the NFC payment system.” Retailers already equipped with NFC terminals should be able to immediately accept Apple Pay.

Those retailers could be limited, though. The report lists E-mart 24, Costco and Starbucks as some of the first local retailers to accept Apple Pay at launch. While larger retailers are looking to replace magnetic secure transmission payment devices with NFC readers for security purposes, that’s liable to take time.

Since Samsung is a South Korean company, its own digital wallet is already dominating the market there. However, roughly 30% of smartphone users in South Korea use an iPhone. That alone may help Apple Pay gain traction among consumers, so long as retailers come on board.

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