South Korea offers a peek at Mobile Future

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Aside from the more typical—playing games and listening to music, South Koreans use their phones as a subway pass, to pay for both virtual and digital products, to watch TV, as an e-reader for books and comics.

One area that South Korean carriers and tech companies are making a particular push in is mobile payments. Last year, 4 million South Koreans bought items—including music, videos, ringtones, game subscriptions and newspaper articles, among other online items—worth 1.7 trillion won, or $1.4 billion and charged them to their phone bills. Carriers and banks are now trying to widen the use of mobile payments with new payment products.

Late last year, South Koreans started using T-money, electronic cash that is stored and refilled in the SIM cards and other chips in their phones. Now public transportation, convenience stores, online shopping malls, and even some taxis allow the use of T-money.

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