Interactive kiosks reshaping Korean service industry

Self-service digital interactive kiosks are among emerging technologies rapidly reshaping the South Korean service industry, reports Korea Bizwire.

Convenient and cost-effectiveness, the systems are being adopted by an increasing number of companies in various fields, including fast-food restaurant chains, cinemas and convenience stores.

While digital kiosks may still be relatively new in the South Korean market, the speed at which they are popping up in the service sector suggests they are on course to become deeply entrenched in South Korean commerce following trends in Europe and North America.

Despite concerns the kiosks might replace workers, surveys show that most South Koreans are more excited than worried about the touch-screen systems, which continue to spread and play an increasingly important role in the lives of consumers.

McDonald’s has been at the forefront of the digital wave in the South Korean service industry. Since it launched its first interactive kiosk at one of its restaurants in 2015, the international fast-food chain’s has been aggressively digitising its checkout systems with about 100 branches revamped.

With plans to install kiosks at 250 stores in the first half of this year, another McDonald’s project under the slogan of “Experience of the Future” has seen a store open near Digital Media City in Sangam with not only the self-service kiosks but improved menu options and table service.

Banking services

Meanwhile, Shinhan Bank has teamed up with CU, South Korea’s second-largest convenience-store chain, to join the trend of going unmanned.

edw2weweew `12Dubbed “Bank in CU”, the initiative will see digital kiosks roll out at CU stores providing more than 100 banking services even after regular banking hours.

Shinhan Bank launched a similar system, “Shinhan Smart Lounge”, at some of its branches in 2015, reporting improved productivity and time efficiency.

In a new report on interactive kiosks from the Institute for Information & Communications Technology Promotion (IITP), nearly seven out of 10 consumers reportedly prefer interactive kiosks to human employees.

The report also found a stronger preference for kiosks among younger respondents. Among those who said they prefer kiosks, shorter waiting times were the most-cited reason, while others said they opt for interactive kiosks to avoid human interaction.

Also, 62 per cent of the respondents said the expansion of digital kiosk systems in the service industry was unstoppable, while 13 per cent called for government intervention to restrict kiosk numbers.

Growing concerns over the spread of interactive kiosks and their impact on job security were more notable in another report, by market researcher Trend Monitor.

More than 80 per cent of respondents said the Fourth Industrial Revolution – including kiosk technology – will exacerbate income inequality, while 76 per cent believed society will face new ethical and moral issues because of the advancement of technology in various fields … some even fearing manpower may be completely replaced in the long run.

IITP head Kim Yong-gyun says that as the age of automation approaches, the government needs to come up with measures to support the improved productivity and convenience that comes with the use of kiosk software while minimising the negative effects, such as protecting low-income jobs for workers.

The global interactive kiosk market is forecast to exceed US$31 billion in five years, according to a report by Allied Market Research.

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