• South Korea’s government wants people to use contactless services in the fight to stop the spread of Covid-19 and to aid economic recovery.
  • Contact-free customer experiences are becoming commonplace, and there’s even a word for it in South Korea: untact.
  • Untact services range from online shopping and ordering food remotely to telehealth.

In a café in Daejeon, a robot barista serves drinks to reduce person-to-person contact between staff and customers. It’s one example of an innovative solution to the difficulties of social distancing. But even before Covid-19, many kinds of contactless customer experiences became a feature of life in South Korea.

The march of untact services  From online shopping and ordering food remotely to chatbots and appointments with virtual doctors, digital technologies have enabled the rise of services that minimise direct human interactions.

Untact is a term initially used by marketers, and untact services are now being deployed in the fight to stop the spread of Covid-19 and to aid the country’s economic recovery.

The Digital New Deal, part of President Moon Jae-in’s $62 billion five-year Korean New Deal stimulus package, outlines plans to prepare for “surging demand for remote services.”

Projects to boost untact industries include:

  • Building 18 smart hospitals for remote healthcare.
  • Providing digital care services for seniors and other vulnerable groups.
  • Helping small and medium-sized businesses set up virtual conferencing and online sales support for small companies.

There will also be an investment in technologies that enable untact services, such as robotics, drones and high-speed internet.