The Seoul Metropolitan Government has reportedly put a gag on the country’s major commercial banks about the result of implementing the “Zero Pay” system.
Zero Pay is a new smartphone-based payment service that the Seoul city government formally launched on Jan. 1 to relieve small business owners of the burden of settlement costs. Participating vendors with less than 800 million won in annual sales are exempt from the transaction fee.
Commercial banks’ officials said Monday that the Seoul city government has recently demanded that individual banks should not disclose the usage status of the Zero Pay system. It was apparently after a media report was released, which pointed to the lack of stores and people using the new transaction platform, citing results revealed by banks early this month.
This may be why neither participating banks nor the Seoul city government has announced the usage status of the Zero Pay system even though Sunday marked one month since the platform was introduced. “The Seoul city government requested individual banks to remain silent as the government plans to take action collectively,” an official at one of the commercial banks said.
Yet, the Seoul city government has explained that this is far from the truth. “There could have been an argument raised at a consultative body including banks that the system’s usage status should be jointly released, not individually," a Seoul city official said Monday. "However, we at Seoul City have not ordered banks to not make public the status."
“It’s still in initial stage, so revealing the result won’t mean much,” the official added, saying that it is too early to disclose the status. "We don’t have a plan to disclose the result for the time being.”
Observers in the financial industry speculate that the Seoul city government is unwilling to release the result because the Zero Pay system has not been taken up widely as it earlier expected. Multiple industry watchers said that only few people are using the platform, even if it is allowed for that the system is still in its initial stage.