The Bank of Korea announced on May 18 that South Korean residents made a total card payment of US$4,023 million abroad in the first quarter of this year. The quarterly amount showed a quarter-on-quarter growth of 7.4% and exceeded US$4 billion for the first time in history.
This increase is because of a significant increase in the number of outbound tourists. According to the Korea Culture & Tourism Institute, the number of outbound tourists totaled 6.51 million in the first quarter, up 14.3% from the previous quarter and up 17.1% from a year ago.
An increase in the ratio of card payment by the residents contributed to that result as well. In that period, the residents used 13,237,000 cards abroad, up 6.6% from the preceding quarter, and the average payment per card was US$304. Specifically, credit, check and debit card payments increased 6.7%, 9.6% and 2.4% to US$2.907 billion, US$1.028 billion and US$88 million, respectively.
Meanwhile, card payment by foreigners in South Korea fell from US$2.639 billion to US$2.454 billion between Q4, 2016 and Q1, 2017. The Bank of Korea explained that this has to do with the Chinese government’s economic retaliation for THAAD deployment in South Korea, which led to a significant drop in March in the number of Chinese tourists visiting South Korea.