Unable to buy… yet

By greenteapanda

October 29, 2007

Category: Shopping

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I have a credit card, with a limit high enough to allow me to buy some computer equipment I have wanted to purchase. I am nowhere near the credit limit, but I am not yet able to buy those items online.

As it turns out, with just a Korean credit card in Korea, the spending limit is 300,000 won per online transaction. This limit cannot be circumvented by choosing to pay for an item in installments of less than 300,000 won each. It is the total cost of the items that counts. To verify such purchases online, the online form will ask for the CVC code on the back of the credit card. To spend more than 300,000 won per online transaction, a personal digital certificate signed by the Korean government is required in addition to the credit card at the time of purchase.

To get the personal digital certificate, one must go to their bank and apply both for a "secret card" and Internet Banking (this is not enabled when one applies for an account, and is not something one sign up for over the Internet). Once the secret card has been obtained. the personal digital certificate can be obtained through the Internet banking service.

But that is not it… even when you have the digital certificate, you have to use Internet Explorer to complete the purchase. In my experience with both Internet Explorer 6 and 7 on different PCs, these ActiveX controls that supposedly provide security cause Internet Explorer to crash, and crash often. Even more so than Internet Explorer does by itself. At least I got it to install. For 10% of users, the software won’t install under any circumstances.

Not surprisingly, the introduction of this system caused online sales to drop by 30% immediately. The current limit of 300,000 won without the personal digital certificate is triple of what it was when introduced in 2004.

Of course, if somebody happens to have their wallet stolen (maybe complete with a USB keychain containing the certificate), all those layers of security mean nothing. And that assumes that Internet Explorer is actually a secure browser…

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