At South Korea's Hyundai Card, seeing how plastic gets made has taken on a whole new meaning.
The company, which issues credit cards to about 7 million customers, opened its doors last week on a working factory inside its downtown Seoul headquarters, where it actually makes the cards.
Visitors can reportedly pick up new cards and browse in a combination museum and café, while touring the factory where their credit cards are made.
The company seems to have two goals: showing off the manufacturing process for the plastic cards, which sounds pretty automated, and giving its customers a little bit of history of this ubiquitous piece of our consumer culture.
“We have decided to place a special spotlight on the credit card, which is the most advanced form of currency,” a company spokesperson told the English-language Korea Herald newspaper.
OK, I'm not sure about that “most advanced” form of currency part. Cards are convenient, and maybe from the bank's point of view, with the interest charges it gets to collect, it's the most advanced type of currency.
But putting that aside, the factory definitely sounds worth a stop if you find yourself in Seoul. It's on the 10th floor of the company's headquarters in the financial district, known as Yeouido. (Hyundai Card is a joint venture between Hyundai Motor Group and GE Capital.)
The lifestyle website Wallpaper has some nice photos of the space, and notes that the factory was designed by local architect Choi Wook. It said it tries to create the feel of an old industrial space, with lights that recall factory chimneys, while offering some history of the credit card, which these days are usually made of some form of PVC.
Being South Korean, it also looks very high-tech and modern, complete with robotic arms and sleek manufacturing equipment.
Here's how the company explained it: “Finance is usually embodied in numbers only, but by displaying credit cards amid these 19th century factory backdrops, we intend to convey the message that the current credit card system is part of a longer history.”