Cash payments fell to less than half of all payments at a major convenience store chain in 2016 as a growing number of people used credit, debit and other cards, the chain said Sunday.
It is the first time that card payments have exceeded 50 percent of the total at any convenience store chain, CU said.
Card payments at CU outlets rose to 55.1 percent last year, up from 48.8 percent in 2015, 42 percent in 2014 and 33.6 percent in 2013.
The figure further surged to 57.3 percent in the first three months this year.
The Bank of Korea statistics show cash payments were made the most at traditional markets, with 79.2 percent in 2016, followed by hospitals and drug stores at 60.6 percent, and convenience stores at 60.2 percent.
In a related move, the central bank launched a pilot project last week for a coinless society in which consumers can deposit change after purchases in prepaid or mobile cards at convenience, discount and department stores.
Among the participants are CU, Seven Eleven, E-Mart, Lotte Mart and Lotte Department Store.
The project is aimed at lowering the cost of producing coins, which stood at 53.7 billion won (US$47 million) last year.
"We are joining the coinless project to increase customers' convenience, the efficiency of store management and the reduction of social costs," a CU official said. (Yonhap)