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City of Seoul's app adds payment, tax refund service

Dec. 11, 2023 - 15:00 By Lee Jung-joo
A promotional image for TripPass, a travel app released by the city of Seoul to increase convenience for personal identification and payments (Seoul Metropolitan Government)

The Seoul Metropolitan Government announced on Monday the expansion of services on the city’s travel app, TripPass, to allow international tourists to easily access various services, such as personal identification and mobile payments.

With TripPass, tourists can issue mobile passports for use in stores that require identity verification or for tax refund services. TripPass was developed by Lordsystem, which introduced the first mobile passport service in South Korea through a competition in 2019 and received two innovation awards at CES 2024 for its latest expansion of the service on TripPass.

In the app, tourists can also issue mobile debit cards that they can top up using a credit card. The debit cards can be used to pay for transit, including subways, buses and taxis, and to pay for goods in stores that accept TripPass mobile debit cards.

Both the debit cards and passports will be issued in the app in the form of a QR code.

This image shows how physical passports are verified for mobile passports on TripPass, an app released by the city of Seoul to increase convenience for foreign tourists to Seoul. (Seoul Metropolitan Government)

Currently, the mobile debit cards can be used at CU convenience stores, Lotte Duty Free locations and other outlets around the capital that offer tax refunds. The mobile debit card will also expand its usage to include Hyundai Duty Free Shops, Shinsegae Duty Free stores and GS25 convenience stores by the first half of 2024.

TripPass currently supports five languages: Korean, English, Japanese, simplified and traditional Chinese. By the first half of 2024, the application will add its services in Vietnamese and Thai.

Tourists from China can also use the application’s functions through WeChat’s TripPass function without the need to download TripPass, and can pay through WeChat Pay.

The TripPass app with its new update is available for download for Android users. For iPhone users, the service will begin to be offered by late January 2024.

According to the city government, the TripPass application is also expected to benefit small merchants in Seoul, as they only have to scan QR codes issued in the app without having to separately buy passport readers or payment terminals for overseas credit cards.

TripPass comes as part of Seoul’s efforts to draw 30 million international tourists by 2026.

Earlier in the month, the Seoul Metropolitan Government introduced Taba, a taxi-hailing app specifically designed for overseas visitors. Seoul Metro, the main operator of Seoul’s subway system, also began to provide real-time, interactive translation services through artificial intelligence-powered screens from Korean to 12 languages at Line No. 4’s Myeongdong Station, to be expanded to five other subway stations in the city by April.