SEOUL, Nov. 3 (Korea Bizwire) – Patent applications pertaining to all-in-one cards registered at the Korea Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) have increased dramatically in the past five years (2012 to 2016).
The nation’s patent authority announced that it had received 125 applications, more than four times the 25 it had accepted in the previous five-year period (2007 to 2011).
As the name suggests, an all-in-one card holds the functionality of multiple credit and/or debit cards. The technology gained headlines with U.S. startup Coin in 2013, after which domestic credit card and tech firms released their versions of the smart card, like KB Koomin Bank’s Alpha One Card in 2016 and the KT Clip Card the year after.
For smart cards like the Alpha One, the desired credit card’s details must be uploaded through a KB Kookmin Bank app, which will subsequently transfer the data onto the physical card. When paying, the user chooses which credit card to pay with by selecting among the uploaded options on the app.
Compared to the newly released KT Clip Card — which is designed with a screen and buttons on the body of the card to alternate between the available card options — the app-based system is slightly less straightforward but has the advantage of being a cheaper option.
The recent surge in patent applications centers on card-based switching options, indicating a shift in the industry from smartphone-enabled systems.
Market analysts explain the upswing in all-in-one tech development has been dominated by credit card and telecom firms, but startups are also persistently asserting themselves for a piece of the 694 trillion won credit card payment market.
Analysts add that all-in-one credit cards are preferred by consumers over other payment options like mobile payment services à la Samsung Pay, judging that a sense of unfamiliarity derived from the lack of a physical payment tool can discourage widespread use.