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    Kona unveils Kona Money for digital gift cards and mobile payments

    PARTNER NEWS: South Korean smart card provider Kona has unveiled Kona Money, a mobile payment service that integrates gift cards and allows for purchases to be made at the point of sale using NFC, QR code or barcode scanning.

    KonaThe service is currently in its beta stage with “some of the renowned banks and retail chains” in its domestic market, Kona told NFC World. Its main purpose is to allow retailers to add and sell their own gift cards to users, who are then able to purchase gift cards on the platform and send them to others.

    To use the service, consumers will need to transfer funds from either their bank account or credit card to a prepaid balance in the app. Payments can only be made using this balance and not directly from a bank account or credit card — this may be made directly from the prepaid balance or from gift/prepaid cards received or purchased on the platform.

    “Kona Money has several features,” the company says. “One can open a prepaid card for all issued payment cards. The prepaid card also features an open platform that follows international standards so one can securely make both online and offline payments. In the offline environment, it supports NFC, barcode and QR code. That means this platform is able to work at the existing payment terminals.

    “It offers the ability to share gift cards with others and, last but not least, Kona Money is able to reduce the regular transaction fees — the fee is around one-fourth compared to the original credit card fee level.”

    Retail platform

    “The core functionality of Kona Money is to provide a platform for merchants to sell prepaid coupons/gift cards to users,” the company told NFC World. “The gift cards can be redeemed online or in-store.

    “Users can send/share gift cards they own by choosing the gift option for a selected card and then choosing the recipient. Alternatively, the user can choose to gift a card from the list of available cards online and then specify the amount to spend on the selected card. Users can sign up for Kona Money for free.

    “The beta services are going well so far with some good responses,” Kona added. “As for banks and merchants, we do have partnerships with some of the renowned banks and retail chains in Korea.”

    The service is scheduled to be launched in the coming months.

    • Willam Hugh Murray, CISSP

      The advantage of offering both NFC and QR at par is that it includes the maximum number of consumers, devices, and merchants. I love Apple Pay (NFC) but I am happy enough with Walmart and CVS (both based on QR). One assumes that Walmart and CVS chose to go with QR, at least in part that because more mobiles have camera/scanners than have NFC radios.

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