A personal dialogue with
Mr. Daesung CHOI
President & CEO
Korea Smart Card Co., Ltd.
- Could you tell us your experience working in the field of public transport? How many years of total experience you had in the field? Your current job and some previous job background?
[Mr. Choi] “It has been three years since I first became the CEO at KSCC in 2012. I have worked for the administration of IT infrastructure and the development of IT applications for more than 20 years. Over the course of my career, I had a chance to understand the core banking and credit card systems. Prior to joining KSCC, I served as an EVP in a large IT service company for the 6 years.
My career can perhaps be summed up by a phrase, “infusion of IT and Finance”. I wish to continue making a contribution to the public transport industry by utilizing the knowledge and insights that I have gained."
- What makes you believe in public transport? What role you see in “Public Transport” and its link to the society, to environment, and to the economy? From a city/country point of view, what is the most critical factor that helps/refrains the development of public transport?
[Mr. Choi] “Public transport in South Korea, especially in Seoul is commonly referred to as the ‘foot of the citizens’. This implies the great responsibility that public transport carries and the intimacy of the service to its users. I believe that public transportation must always pursue its very fundamental purposes - which are to secure public interest and to help the industry grow. KSCC endeavors to truly understand and fulfill our role as the ‘foot of the citizens’ in this highly advanced IT/digital era.
Seoul has experienced exponential growth throughout the years since the adoption of the New Public Transportation Card System in 2004. Seoul citizens have the convenience of making payments with T-money cards and receive a free transfer between a singular and multiple transit modes. I am confident to say T-money System enables people to use a single transit card to ride all public transport modes including bus, subway, and taxi in Seoul, the sixth largest city on earth, and no other system can. Many transit operators also take advantage of our prompt and accurate settlement service.
Services we provide do not stop here. Passengers are updated with a real-time arrival time service at bus stations and on their smart phones. KSCC analyzes big data collected through the T-money System, and the insights are used to shape the practical policies on increasing efficiency in bus dispatch and mitigating passenger congestion on subway. ‘Taxi Safe Arrival Service’ was launched last year to allow passengers to easily notify their families and friends the information of the taxi they are riding; this is to promote the notion that taxi is a much more secure and people oriented service. KSCC has recently developed a service which detects potholes on roads by using the T-money taxi validators.
As you can see, ‘foot of the citizens’ does not merely stay at the frontier of transit industry but pushes the boundaries in order to make economic and social contributions. The continuously evolving Seoul public transit is created together by the national transport policies and the creative minds and highly advanced technologies of KSCC.”
- UITP practices the belief of “Grow with Public Transport”. How does it relate to your current role? How relevant is that to the business strategy of your organization?
[Mr. Choi] “UITP’s vision “Grow with Public Transport” walks the same path as the vision of KSCC. Our company is growing along with the transit industry by operating T-money system which is combined with IT and transportation technologies; implementation, clearing, and issuance of T-money card as main businesses. We have successfully dropped traffic congestion rate by 24% and saved 140 million USD of annual social expenses. As of 2013, 98.9% of the Seoul citizens are using the transport cards and this is a proof of high efficiency and convenience that T-money service provides in the region. KSCC leads and grows with the transport industry while seeking the interest of the public.
The company also acknowledges its social responsibility and is honored to practice this virtue; ‘grow with everyone’. We established Smart Transit Welfare Foundation in 2013 in which research and policy studies are undertaken to support people that have difficulty using the transit system and also to invigorate the market. This is only one of the many steps that we take to bring closer our vision to reality.
Earlier this year, all staff members at KSCC had gathered to discuss the new vision of the company and ‘World Best Smart Mobility & Payment Service Provider’ came forward. Our company will strive to stand in the forefront of smart mobility and payment services along with providing the best T-money System and grow with the rest of the world’s transit industries.”
- During your many years of work in the field of public transport, what had been the biggest challenge and how did you overcome it? What are the learning other organizations can learn to make the development of public transport better?
[Mr. Choi] “One of the unique features of the South Korea’s transport card industry is that passengers have a choice to use many different types of cards such as pre-paid, post-paid, credit card, etc. Since the launch of T-money system in 2004, people could enjoy the convenience of using a single T-money card to ride almost all transit modes. However, T-money was faced with a crisis on the transit card market since RF credit cards became a more convenient substitute as it did not require recharge and this led a market share growth of pre-paid cards to be stagnant.
Nevertheless, crisis is a hidden opportunity in waiting. We first expanded our contract with retailers to procure greater access for T-money System users. We re-developed T-money cards so that people could pay at convenient stores, movie theaters, fast food chains, parking lots and online shops. We also collaborated with schools and other corporations so that their students and employees could use our cards versatilely for multiple purposes including accessing buildings and paying for their meals at cafeterias. T-money’s network expands to cover more than 100,000 retailers and institutions across the country. In the midst of ‘wallet-less’ age, Mobile T-money was released as the world’s first post-paid mobile payment service. Mobile T-money is attracting a tremendous amount of users after we eliminated the recharging aspect of our regular T-money card. We followed a ‘Two-track’ strategy where we promised to deliver increased convenience and provide state-of-the-art technology which parallels with trends of the time. We believe that we were able to turn our crisis into an opportunity because we governed ourselves by the rules of prioritizing customers’ needs first and to endlessly challenge our own limits.”
- UITP is an association connecting all in the sector – authority, operator, industry supplier, academic and institute. How do you use UITP to help grow your idea and ambition in the development of public transport?
[Mr. Choi] “KSCC was fortunate enough to attend the UITP 2013 held in Geneva, Switzerland and to share with the world some of our successful transport system implementation and operation projects that run both domestically and internationally. It was a chance for us to introduce to many government agencies and transit related industries our operation know-how’s of T-money System which was built based on cutting edge IT technologies. We showcased our most advanced validators for bus, taxi, and recharging validators for manned station, and all-in-one device such as a ticket vending machine.
UITP and KSCC’s history together takes us back to 2006 when KSCC received the Most Innovative IT Award at UITP Awards 2006. I hope that by utilizing this invaluable and exceptional UITP’s network, we all can create a future where we flourish as one.”
- What would be the one phrase you give as a piece of advice to those young talents who want to devote their energy in the public transport sector?
[Mr. Choi] “Public transportation must always be accompanied by the following three elements; safety, comfort, and convenience. These three elements can only be satisfied when we successfully deliver state-of-the-art technologies and adhere to public interest. I am and always will look forward to witnessing many young aspiring transport professionals challenging in the public transport industry.”