2019 Marketplace Expansion Index

The ecommerce and sharing economies are booming. Thousands of fast-growth marketplaces are emerging all around the world.
This index examines the top 36 countries for ecommerce and sharing economy platforms to expand.

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South Korea

2019 Rank # | 2018 Rank #

Big Mover



South Korea

Excellent payment infrastructure combined with high broadband penetration make South Korea a very attractive country for digital marketplaces.

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Biggest Movers


Marketplace Expansion Index Rank

Up 5 Spots from 2018 Index Rank of #11


  • Nearly 50 percent of population available for freelance
  • Extremely high internet and smartphone penetration
  • High penetration of digital payment methods in the country


  • Low level of native English speakers
  • Protectionist laws and regulations may favor local / thwart foreign businesses
  • Sharing economy has a very specific meaning culturally

Facts You Can't Forget


Number One. South Korea ranks first globally for smartphone ownership and Internet penetration.


Crossing Borders. Cross border ecommerce in South Korea has reached $2.0 billion in 2017, up from $1.6 billion in 2016, with 55 percent purchased from US online retailers.


The Shift Is On. According to the 2017 Electronic Pay Service Usage report by the Bank of Korea, 2.12 million won mobile payment transactions were made daily last year, up 147.4 percent on-year.

Ranking Highlights

For our full explanation, visit our methodology page



The fundamentals of any society and enterprise, including: payment infrastructure, ease of doing business, and Logistics Performance Index.



You’re only as good as your people. Factors in this category include: levels of English proficiency and participation in freelance employment.

Ecommerce Activity


This category assessed ecommerce opportunity size, retail ecommerce growth and ecommerce as a percentage of retail transactions.



The fate of foreign entrants, based on the volume of cross-border transactions and if a global marketplace dominates that geography.

Essential Reading

"Recent ecommerce booms in China, led by Alibaba and JD.com; in Korea by GMarket; and in Singapore by Lazada have all accelerated investments in recent years."

"In South Korea, only about 20 percent of transactions are currently made in cash."

"Only 20 percent of goods purchases were paid in cash in 2017, down from 26 percent a year earlier, according to data by the Bank of Korea (BOK). Moreover, a growing number of people have opted to even ditch their plastic. Instead, they use mobile payment services like Samsung Pay or Kakao Pay to buy goods and take public transportation. Mobile remittance services are widely used among young people."