First Hawaiian's agreement comes as tourism from the area enjoys rapid growth
POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Apr 29, 2011
First Hawaiian Bank, the state's largest credit card processor, said yesterday it now accepts the BC Global Card, a South Korean credit card, at its 7,500 credit card locations and 300 ATMs to make it easier for South Korean tourists to shop in Hawaii.
The Korean issuer, BCcard, has an agreement with Discover Financial Services that allows the card to be used on the Discover network as well as the Diners Club International and PULSE networks.
First Hawaiian, which has a long-standing partnership with Discover, processed the first BCcard transaction yesterday during a news conference at the Halekulani Hotel. BCcard President and CEO Jong Ho Lee bought a koa bowl at the hotel as the first card purchase.
BCcard, founded in 1982, has 54 million cards issued through 11 financial institutions and has marketed the BC Global Card as the first Korean domestic card with international acceptance. Korean cardholders spent more than $13 billion outside of Korea in 2010, according to the Korea Tourism Organization.
Korean visitors to Hawaii increased 69.1 percent to 86,860 in 2010 from 51,353 the previous year and spent an average of $225 a day, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority. In the first quarter of this year, Korean visitor arrivals were up 14.9 percent to 23,223.
Earlier this year Hawaiian Airlines added daily service between Honolulu and South Korea's Incheon International Airport, just outside Seoul.
Bob Harrison, president and chief operating officer of First Hawaiian, said the addition of the BC Global Card complements international customer access already available to JCB and China UnionPay card holders.
"Japan, China and Korea represent an important part of our visitors, our tourism network in Hawaii," Harrison said. "Tourism is our most important industry, and our economic recovery depends, in part, on visitors' ability to easily make purchases while they're here in Hawaii. Our merchants see this as an important opportunity to serve visitors from Korea."
Diane Offereins, president of payment services for Discover, said the BC card marks another key milestone for Discover to grow its payments business through network-to-network alliances.
"As part of our agreement with BCcard, they also will assist us in increasing ATM acceptance for Discover and Diners Club International cards by enabling the ATMs of their banking partners to accept our card," she said.