South Koreans Save on Paper with their Cell Phones

With all the talk of going green this year, South Koreans are using their cell phones to save on the use of small slips of paper that can mount up. Retailers are sending coupons, gift certificates, movie tickets and other such things to a customer’s mobile phone. The message sent to a customer has a picture of a barcode that can be scanned by the retailer.

“People can actually receive products from places just by showing their phones,” Ryu Mina, a spokeswoman with mobile service provider SK Telecom.

Sending barcodes to mobile phones isn’t new. Companies in South Korea started text messaging those cryptic numbers and bars about six year ago. Many people thought the messages were span and deleted them. But this technology has finally caught on with Koreans in their 20s and younger.

It is easy to misplace or forget a slip of paper, but for many of us the cell phone has become another appendage. The mobile barcode has a lot of potential for advertisers, retailers and customers, but hasn’t taken off anywhere. Maybe South Koreas can breathe some life into this idea for other countries.