• 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 cafe in Daejeon, South Korea, 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 experience were becoming 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 minimize direct human interactions.

And in South Korea, there’s even a word for it: “untact”.

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

coronavirus, health, COVID19, pandemic

What is the World Economic Forum doing to manage emerging risks from COVID-19?

The first global pandemic in more than 100 years, COVID-19 has spread throughout the world at an unprecedented speed. At the time of writing, 4.5 million cases have been confirmed and more than 300,000 people have died due to the virus.

As countries seek to recover, some of the more long-term economic, business, environmental, societal and technological challenges and opportunities are just beginning to become visible.

To help all stakeholders – communities, governments, businesses and individuals understand the emerging risks and follow-on effects generated by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the World Economic Forum, in collaboration with Marsh and McLennan and Zurich Insurance Group, has launched its COVID-19 Risks Outlook: A Preliminary Mapping and its Implications - a companion for decision-makers, building on the Forum’s annual Global Risks Report.

The report reveals that the economic impact of COVID-19 is dominating companies’ risks perceptions.

Companies are invited to join the Forum’s work to help manage the identified emerging risks of COVID-19 across industries to shape a better future. Read the full COVID-19 Risks Outlook: A Preliminary Mapping and its Implications report here, and our impact story with further information.

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 investment in technologies that enable untact services, such as robotics, drones and high-speed internet.