WeMakePrice, a major online shopping mall in South Korea, has announced that it will now be accepting payment in the form of twelve different kinds of cryptocurrency, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Ripple. According to Korean news source YonHap News, the move comes as part of a partnership with virtual currency exchange Bithumb.
The plan is to develop a payment system that will integrate virtual currency into Wimepey, a pre-existing settlement service used by the mall.
The first major online Korean shopping mall will now accept 12 kinds of crypto. 위메프 and Bithumb are discussing a system development plan, the partnership has confirmed thus far it will be enabling Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Ripple among others.
— Heslin Kim @BlockchainROK (@BlockchainROK) January 28, 2018
YonHap reported that the service will be available as soon as “government policies and regulations on virtual money are confirmed.” (Translated quote.)
Crypto Payments–On the Rise?
While this is the first major shopping mall in South Korea to announce that it will be integrating cryptocurrency as a payment method in its stores, some other major retailers in South Korea have already made the move.
In late November of 2017, Goto Mall (South Korea’s largest underground shopping center) announced that it was partnering with local crypto exchange HTS Coin to develop the tools necessary to start accepting Bitcoin. Together, the mall and the exchange built a smart payment system and a mobile app that made the process of accepting BTC for small purchases more streamlined.
However, the practicality of accepting Bitcoin as payment for smaller purchases is still questionable. The Bitcoin network’s scalability problems continue to grow worse as more and more active users join the network; fees also continue to grow higher. While the successful implementation of the Lightning Network may solve these problems, it’s still unclear when and how that will happen.
However, other crypto networks who do not have the issues that BTC has may be very well-suited for making small purchases with minimal fees. For example, the IOTA network has been designed to have feeless transactions (although it has been optimized for machine-to-machine use). Additionally, currencies like Dash have been created specifically for implementation by shops. The fact that Wimep is using cryptocurrencies in addition to BTC is a good sign that the project may actually work.
The announcement of the partnership between Wimep and Bitsum comes at a rather fraught period in South Korea’s relationship with cryptocurrency. The South Korean government announced that it will be banning anonymous accounts from cryptocurrency exchanges starting on January 30, a decision that had been rumored for weeks.
Despite the recent addition of this legal restriction, however, South Korea remains a nation with one of the highest BTC trading volumes in the world.