The head of South Korea's state-run minting agency said Monday that it is seeking to increase overseas sales as the demand for cash, its key profit source, weakens in tandem with soaring credit card usage in Asia's fourth-largest economy.
In the latest move, the Korea Minting, Security Printing & ID Card Operating Corp. (KOMSCO) has signed a contract with Indonesia media group EMTEK to sell its signature "ORODT" gold bars via a local televised shopping program starting next month.
"We also have recently signed a deal to supply more than 8 million security sheets for civil documents to Papua New Guinea. We're also moving to increase exports of gold bars," KOMSCO CEO Kim Hwa-dong told reporters.
He said KOMSCO aims to expand sales of the gold bar products to Asian markets such as China and India.
The agency's drive to bolster its overseas sales came as cash issuance volume in the country declined. The volume of cash note issuance tumbled to the 600-million level compared with the 2-billion range in 2007, in line with the issuance of 50,000 won (US$46.20) notes in 2009.
A sharp rise in credit card usage has also been eating into its sales. Data by the Credit Finance Association showed that purchases made with credit cards totaled 578.6 trillion won last year, up 6.1 percent from 545 trillion won a year earlier.
Bank note issuances have accounted for 60 percent of its overall sales, but the portion dipped to below the 30-percent level.
In contrast, sales from exports have been trending higher. Overseas sales, which reached 13.1 billion won in 2011, more than tripled to 34.9 billion won last year, according to company data.
The minting agency aims to double exports to 66 billion won while increasing overall sales to 470 billion won this year.