Former South Korean dentist hoped to smooth payment transactions. He stopped pulling teeth, and began working on a solution. His eighth iteration became Toss, a way to send and receive money peer-to-peer (P2P). Its next step includes bitcoin and even real estate transactions.
South Korea’s 500 Billion USD Consumer Market
Known as the most wired country on earth, South Korea is no stranger to using mobile devices as a way of life. The Group of 20 (G-20) nation’s tip-of-the-tongue heavyweights include Samsung, LG Electronics.
It also has the highest smartphone usage in the world.
With its focus on international trade, domestic payment systems ironically lagged. “Before Toss, users required five passwords and around 37 clicks to transfer $10,” founder Lee Seung-gun told TechCrunch.
Toss is a mobile application (app) created by Mr. Lee’s company, Viva Republica. Demand for a simplified payment system was so strong, the company has received multiple rounds of venture capital, including from Paypal (which has its own such app, Venmo).
Mr. Lee continued, “With Toss users need just 1 password and three steps to transfer up to [$430].”
Catching the Cryptocurrency Bug
Making money transfers a snap means avoiding cumbersome certification numbers, bank account information, which Toss accomplishes. It also boasts foreigners being able to use the app.
This is a nice summary of bitcoin‘s advantages.
South Koreans have embraced cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, especially in light of China’s announced crackdown, though its own government has banned Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs). Well-known, better established currencies such as bitcoin have benefitted from the three-pronged desires of South Koreans to absorb Chinese markets, conform to its country’s own laws, and find suitable digital payment systems.
The New York Times reports how recently “the heaviest [South Korean] trading has been in […] Bitcoin Cash, which can handle more transactions.” Cryptocurrencies are so popular, local exchanges “Bithumb and Coinone, have set up storefronts in Seoul that people can visit to buy and sell in person.”
Mr. Lee, who also heads the Korea Fintech Association, said his countrymen were pushed into the bitcoin space initially due to trading hurdles in traditional exchanges where “investing into derivatives like put options now requires hefty individual investor certification including 30 hours of training and 50 hours of simulated transactions, a turn-off for traders,” according to Forbes.
Koreans “looked into other assets with high volatility and Bitcoin was the perfect one,” he said. “So high-risk traders put their money into the Korean Bitcoin market and it went up like crazy. Once people saw that, they just poured their money in.”
As perhaps an antidote to speculative-centric, short term thinking about bitcoin, Toss has reintroduced it as a transferable currency on its system.
“From the beginning to the end,” Mr. Lee answered in an interview, “it’s all about making a difference in society, and ushering in social improvement. That’s the most and only important thing to me, and that’s why I spend so much time for this company. Because I want it to work, and I want it to contribute to our lives.”
What do you think? Can apps like Toss ease users into seeing the value of bitcoin as a currency and not just a momentary speculation? Tell us in the comments below!
Images courtesy of: 1Zoom.Me, Toss, Kore Asian Media.