Korea’s Oldest Mileage Program Considers Plan to Convert Cash Points into Cryptocurrency

Physical version of Bitcoin (new virtual money) and banknotes of one dollar. Exchange bitcoin for a dollar. Conceptual image for worldwide cryptocurrency and digital payment system.

An e-commerce site in South Korea is planning to extend its reward system to include cryptocurrencies, subject to the mandatory approvals.

South Korea has remained one of the countries where cryptocurrencies are very popular among the common public, even going to the level of cultural notoriety.

The government in South Korea has, however, not been very convinced about the future of Bitcoin or any other digital currency, and it is not officially recognized legal tender in the country.

South Korean authorities have also taken a tough stance on cryptocurrency trading.

But that has not deterred private enterprises from leveraging the popularity of the asset and luring their customers with offers.

The latest to join this bandwagon is SK Telecom, which owns SK Planet, an e-commerce platform. SK Planet runs a customer loyalty program on its site known as OK Cashbag.

Mileage Points Awarded for Making Purchases

When OK Cashbag customers order from the site or from merchants affiliated with site, certain mileage points accrue to their Ok Cashbag accounts, and theses points can then be exchanged for other goods on the site.

There is a provision to even get cash in exchange for points once the accumulated points surpass 50,000.

There is a proposal now to reward the customers through cryptocurrencies in place of the other rewards or cash paid in Won, South Korea’s official currency.

Numbers Quite Staggering

The reason this bit of news about using cryptocurrencies to reward customers in a mileage program has garnered attention is mainly because of the impact it can produce.

Imagine there are 35 million users of this OK Cashbag program and they have 50,000 merchant establishments registered with the SK Planet site and have joined the program in honoring the mileage points accumulated by the users. A rough estimate of the points already lying in credit with the users—which can be theoretically converted into cryptocurrency if the plan proposed by the company gets implemented—is in the range of $100 million.

Some Hurdles Do Remain

Gold Bitcoin on South Korea flag background

South Korea has remained one of the countries where cryptocurrencies are very popular among the common public, even going to the level of cultural notoriety.

At this stage, the allowing of blockchain mining and rewards in cryptocurrency against loyalty points accumulated is just a proposal and is still to receive the nod from the company’s own management.

Still, there are reports that even if such an approval were to come through, there are statutory government approvals to be obtained.

The nodal authority in this case would be the South Korean Financial Services Commission. Even without the cryptocurrency angle, the present system of cashback rewards in Won is also a program that requires the approval of this body since it is considered in that country as “prepaid electronic payment means.”

There is therefore speculation if the government body will accord its sanction to the scheme.

But the proposal itself has evoked interest among observers that the luster for Bitcoin is still quite evident and such large entities in countries like South Korea wish to use it as a bait to lure more customers into their buying and earning points program.

The ball would then be in the regulatory body’s court to approve or deny the permission to implement the program. More about this may surface in the coming weeks.

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