Card usage at a record high in Q2Korean card spending overseas continued to increase in the second quarter, even amid worries over the outbreak here of Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). On the flip side, card use among foreigners in Korea during the period from April to June shrunk, which was considered to be largely affected by the spread of the virus.
According to the Bank of Korea on Friday, Koreans spent $3.32 billion on their debit and credit cards while traveling abroad between April and June, bringing total spending to a new record previously held by the first quarter.
Total spending overseas grew 3.3 percent compared to the $3.21 billion spent in the first three months of this year. Compared to a year ago, card spending overseas surged by 11.5 percent.
Koreans also engaged in record-level spending while traveling overseas despite the fact that the number of flights abroad decreased.
In the second quarter, 4.45 million Koreans took trips overseas, a 5.3 percent drop from the 4.7 million who traveled during the first three months of this year.
The number of cards used also increased 5.6 percent compared to the previous quarter, to 9.42 million.
While Koreans spent large overseas in the second quarter during the same period, foreigners visiting Korea spent less, spending a total of $2.73 billion ? a 1 percent drop from the $276 billion they spent in the first quarter and a 6.4 percent drop from a year ago.
In the second quarter, the number of foreigners visiting Seoul grew compared to the first quarter. However, it significantly dropped in June when the MERS scare was at its height.
Between April and June, a total of 3.47 million foreigners entered Korea, an 8.2 percent increase. In April, the number of foreigners amounted to 1.38 million, an 11.8 percent increase compared to March.
But in May, the figure slightly retreated to 1.33 million, a 3.6 percent decline. The country’s first MERS patient was reported in mid-May; however, the situation grew worse as the days counted down to June, with the number of patients infected beginning to multiply.
In June, only 750,000 foreigners visited Seoul, a 44 percent drop from May.
When taking into account tuition payments, including for language schools, Koreans spent a total of $6 billion in the second quarter, 54.9 percent of which were made with cards.
Credit cards were still the most dominant means of plastic spending, accounting for 72.4 percent. That was a 1.5 percentage point increase from the previous quarter.
BY LEE HO-JEONG [firstname.lastname@example.org]
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