Woori Card sets its sights on debit-card dominance

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Woori Card sets its sights on debit-card dominance

Woori Card, which officially launched as an independent company yesterday, vows to cement its position by becoming a leader in the emerging debit card market.

The company was spun off from Woori Bank nine years after the credit card unit rejoined the bank in March 2004.

The nation’s four major financial holding companies - KB Financial Group, Woori Financial Group, Shinhan Financial Group and Hana Financial Group - now run independent credit card companies.

“The card market is facing difficulties with the transaction fee cut, pressures to cut interest rates for cash advances and card loans, and tightened regulations for issuance of cards,” said Jung Hyun-jin, CEO of Woori Card. “To help Woori Card leap to the top position, I will focus on increasing the customer base, marketing, utilizing synergies within Woori Financial Group and finding a new growth engine.”

According to market observers, KB Kookmin Card is the debit card market leader with a share of 22.3 percent, followed by NH Nonghyup Card (20 percent), Shinhan Card (16.1 percent) and Woori Card (11 percent).

For Woori to be No. 1, it must more than double its market share.

“KB Kookmin Card became the leader in the debit card market against strong rivals because it focused on marketing debit cards after spinning off from KB Kookmin Bank,” said an employee at Woori Card. “We can secure a significant market share just by targeting Woori Bank customers.”

Woori Card yesterday released a “duet platinum card,” a hybrid debit card that allows customers to make up to 300,000 won ($269) in credit purchases per month when the deposit balance is used up. It also offers discounts for public transportation and restaurants based on spending level.

The government is campaigning to encourage debit card use to curb impulse spending associated with credit cards. It increased tax breaks for debit card use to 30 percent in 2012 from 25 percent in 2011, while lowering tax breaks for credit cards to 15 percent from 20 percent over the same period.

By Kim Mi-ju [mijukim@joongang.co.kr]

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