GK Power’s President and CEO Kim Sam-sun
By Jane Han
For those who want to show off a little extra bling bling, diamond-embedded credit cards may be just the thing _ only if you can pass the cut for the high-status prerequisites.
``VVIP customers want differentiation, and banks want to attract these big spenders,'' Kim Sam-sun, president and CEO of GK Power, said in a recent Korea Times interview, explaining these are the reasons why the new high-concept card will be met with high demand worldwide.
GK Power, a Seoul-based smart card maker and online game provider, developed the luxury card and began selling it to local and overseas banks last year. Recently, it signed a $175,000 contract with Dubai First Bank in September to supply 1,000 cards _ worth 300 times more than conventional plain plastic cards _ for the bank's most valued clients.
Kim says this is just the beginning of the high-end card market that the company is looking to step into in the U.S., China, Europe and the Middle East.
He added that despite the rising expenditures of the ``uber-rich,'' credit cards _ the most commonly used spending method _ have not been upgraded.
After realizing this, Kim's company went through two years of research and development to issue three different types of card-making technologies that enabled cold film coating and diamond embedding on plastic cards.
Currently, BC's ``Diamond Card,'' Hyundai Card's ``The Black'' and Woori Bank's corporate cards are some of the local institution's using GK Power's high-concept cards.
Despite the lavish look produced by Innodesign and other renowned artists, one obvious drawback of the product is its high price.
But Kim says that isn't a hindrance for firms that want to steal customers at the top of the heap.
``Banks know that VIP clients want to get special benefits and, in order to beat the competition to lure the biggest spenders, they must make good offers,'' said Kim, noting that these glittering cards are one of the pitches.
Estimating 2007 sales to be around 11 billion won, Kim expects next year's sales to more than double at around 30 billion won.
Just like cell phones that have undergone a change in paradigm, in which users express themselves through their mobile phone's design variations, Kim says credit cards will follow a similar track.
After setting up a regional office in Almaty, Kazakhstan this month, the company executive expects the overseas business to see a new breakthrough.
``Some of the Middle Eastern countries may not seem rich in terms of the entire country, but there is always that top millionaire class anywhere _ and that's the crowd we're initially aiming for,'' said Kim.