The use of debit cards in South Korea grew 6.4 percent in the first half from a year earlier on the back of the government's move to offer tax benefits to such cardholders, the financial watchdog said Monday.
Spending via debit cards was valued at 42.3 trillion won (US$39.1 billion) in the January-June period, compared with 39.8 trillion won the previous year, according to the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS).
The data was tallied based on debit cards issued by eight stand-alone card companies and 12 banks.
The use of debit cards is on the rise as the government has been encouraging people to use such cards by giving them tax benefits in a bid to curb excessive use of credit cards.
The issuance of debit cards reached 103.7 million as of end-June, up 4.6 percent from a year earlier, the FSS said.
The government has been ramping up efforts to curb the country's growing household debts by imposing stronger regulations on credit cards while providing more incentives to debit card users.
The financial regulator is mulling raising the daily permissible purchase limit on debit cards to 6 million won by end-2013 from the current 3 million won.
Korea's household debt problems are cited as the main bugbear for policymakers as high household indebtedness crimps consumer spending, hurting economic growth. Korea's household credit amounted to a record 980 trillion won as of end-June.