Kakao Corp., the company behind Korea's biggest mobile messaging platform, aims to launch a wallet service in the next few months. This is the most recent addition to the Kakao platform, as the company continues to diversify its portfolio of services for users.
It is hoped that Kakao Corp.'s namesake payment platform 'Bank Wallet Kakao' will help boost the ironically nascent mobile wallet industry in South Korea. Ironic, because Korea is praised globally as being one of the world's most wired nations, yet lags far behind many other nations in terms of the ease of completing online payments.
Bank Wallet Kakao aims to be a mobile platform than supports small-sum wire-transfers, online and offline payments, financial transactions and mobile payments.
Anyone over 14 of age registered to the Internet banking service is eligible to use the service and can recharge up to 500,000 won (around $500 USD) as “bank money.” Only one account is permitted on each device. The service will permit wire transfers up to 100,000 won (around $100 USD) each day among users registered to the service. A text alert like “A has sent B 10,000 won” will be automatically sent via KakaoTalk to the people involved in the transaction.
Bank money transfers are planned only to be available in private chat rooms, as opposed to group chat rooms and to prevent mistakes, the legal name of the recipient will appear on the transfer window. Transaction histories and account balance can be checked as well.
It had been expected that the service would have been rolled out by the first half of this year, but this has been delayed on account of issues around the financial regulations. An un-named official at the financial regulatory authorities said, “It took a long time to decide on who will be in charge of the case, since it is the first time to launch a mobile money transfer and payment service in partnership with banks, the Korea Financial Telecommunications & Clearings Institute, and a mobile messenger service provider.”
This delay is characteristic of a conservative administration that is unsure of how to deal with innovations in traditionally conservative and bureaucratic industries. Yet it shows that even in the face of setbacks the administration is prepared to at least entertain new possibilities presented by SMEs, in a country still utterly dominated by large corporations.