SEOUL, March 18 (Korea Bizwire) – South Korea’s two leading conglomerates — Samsung Group and Shinsegae Group, which share the same lineage — have been locked in an unusual conflict over mobile payment tools, industry sources said Friday, as the two are promoting their respective platforms.
According to the sources, Samsung’s service sector entities, including Hotel Shilla and Everland Resort, announced they will stop accepting gift certificates issued by Shinsegae, a leading retail group.
The industry sources said Samsung’s move apparently came as Shinsegae earlier said it won’t accept Samsung Pay.
In a related development, Starbucks, which is operated here by Shinsegae, has begun to reject Samsung Pay, a mobile payment tool promoted by Samsung Electronics Co., the flagship for Samsung Group.’
Samsung Group is controlled by the family of Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Kun-hee, who has been hospitalized since May 2014. His younger sister Lee Myung-hee serves as chairwoman of Shinsegae.
Shinsegae operates its own mobile payment tool dubbed SSG.
“We are in talks with Samsung about adopting Samsung Pay in our retail network,” a Shinsegae official said. “The gift certificates have been discontinued due to commission issues.”
Other sources, however, said the tension behind the tussle is the payment platform, as Shinsegae’s local rivals — Lotte Group and Hyundai Department Store, which also operate their own systems — accept Samsung Pay.
The two family-controlled groups have not engaged in a significant battle since Samsung stepped out from the retail business by selling department stores in 2007 and supermarkets in 2011.
But Samsung and Shinsegae’s relationship turned rather icy as the two sought to win operating licenses for duty-free shops in Seoul. Samsung won the right in July, followed by Shinsegae in November.
Others cite the personal matters between Kun-hee and Myung-hee.
When Maeng-hee, the elder brother who died in 2015, engaged in legal disputes with Kun-hee on inherited wealth, Myung-hee stood rather neutral. The two brothers were never reconciled before Maeng-hee’s death.’
Samsung Pay is also a project that’s being strongly promoted by Lee Jae-yong, the de facto heir of Samsung Group, while SSG is a flagship business rolled out by Shinsegae Group Vice Chairman Chung Yong-jin.
Thus, industry watchers said it is unclear if the two groups will seek to reconcile as the dispute is more of a family matter than a business one.