S. Koreans top users of credit cards worldwide

SEOUL, June 10 (Yonhap) -- South Koreans became the world's top users of credit cards in 2011, data showed Monday, in line with the government's effort to promote purchases with plastics to bolster domestic consumption.

According to the data compiled by the Bank of Korea, South Korea's per-capita credit card transactions came to 129.7 cases in 2011, up 12.8 percent from 114.9 cases tallied a year earlier.

The number hovers far above Canada, which posted an average transaction of 89.6 cases, trailed by the United States with 77.9 cases and Australia with 74.4 cases. Hong Kong held a comparable figure of 55.1 cases.

The central bank said the country's high average of credit card transactions came as South Korea promoted issuance of the cards in an effort to bolster domestic demand and tax revenue after the 1997-1998 Asian financial crisis.

If debit and prepaid cards are included, however, South Korea ranked fifth in 2011, with its per-capita card transactions reaching 167.8 cases. The U.S. topped the list with 235.2 cases, trailed by Canada with 209.9 cases.

The combined purchases made with plastics by South Koreans came to 10.01 billion cases in 2012, hovering above the 10 billion mark for the first time. Credit cards took up 74.6 percent, followed by debit cards with 24.8 percent.

The transaction volume edged up 5.6 percent on-year in 2012 at 646.5 trillion won (US$576 billion), the data added.

<All rights reserved by Yonhap News Agency>