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Lotte Duty Free introduces first-in-sector passport-free shopping service

Leading travel retailer Lotte Duty Free has introduced technology that allows domestic and foreign shoppers to register and purchase duty free goods at its downtown stores without using their passports.

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The ‘mobile passport service’, part of the company’s digital transformation drive, aims to improve shopping convenience for customers. The move marks a first for the sector, said the retailer.

To join the programme, customers can register their passports on the ‘My Page’ tab on the Lotte Duty Free app using their smartphones. Once authenticated, customers can use the online system for up to ten years, depending on the length of passport validity.

The project, developed with a digital partner, is in line with Korea Customs Service’s (KCS) measures to revitalise the duty free industry post-pandemic.

In September last year, KCS announced that downtown duty free shops that introduce data-linked protection technology can verify customers’ identities and allow purchases of duty free products through smartphone authentication.

After recognising information such as passport number and expiry date through a camera Optical Character Reader (OCR), when the smartphone is placed on the passport, the biometric passport’s IC chip is automatically scanned. A QR code is issued using blockchain technology, allowing mobile passport registration to be completed.

Lotte Duty Free said that security is strengthened through two-way authentication using OCR and e-passport IC chips. It also conducts real-time verification using the databases of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Justice to check passport expiration dates.

Starting 20 June, domestic and foreign members of Lotte Duty Free’s programmes can use the system to shop at the retailer’s main Myeong-dong store and at World Tower in Seoul. Once approvals are completed, the retailer’s Busan and Jeju stores will also be included.

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Lotte Duty Free chief executive officer Kim Joo-Nam said: “Thanks to the government’s active support for the recovery of the competitiveness of the Korean duty free industry, we preemptively introduced the mobile passport service.”