Up to 75% of the people have never accessed banking services while the remaining 25% have not taken full advantage of banking services, Ta Quang Tien-head of the State Bank of Vietnam’s Information Technology Department said. Actually, this is a big opportunity for the banks to develop retail services and products in Vietnam.
All ATM users are now waiting to see when the domestic card system will merge. Vietnam now has two largest card systems namely SmartLink and Banknet. Both card alliances have a total of 4,500 ATM machines and issue 9.2 million cards providing traditional services of cash withdrawal and balance check-up, accounting for 85% of the total number in the Vietnamese banking sector.
Generally, the country has a total of 39 card issuing institutions with 6,200 ATM and 22,000 POS. As estimated, the Vietnamese card system will be connected with 25 SBV units by December 20.
Ho Huu Hanh-director of SBV-HCM City Branch stated that the two problems for the merger of ATM systems are capital and technology. To speed up the merger, SBV or the state budget must advance capital for investments in sophisticated technology, and then call for capital contribution from the joint stock companies.
Namita Lal, director of the Standard Chartered Consumer Banking in Vietnam said that ATM, mobile phones and internet will speed up the development of banking services.
Online banking services are popular at the moment. Viet Phu Payment Support Joint Stock Co which is the first firm being licensed by SBV to pilot the payment service via mobile phones and internet has made the debut of “Mobivi electronic wallet” that is actually an electronic account.
According to Dr Tran Thanh Nam-deputy general director of Viet Phu Co, new-generation chip cards are safer than the ATM magnetic cards but the chip cards are expensive. Therefore, making transactions via mobile phones and internet equipped with personal security solutions will be safer and helpful to the customers.
In developed countries, lending to businesses accounts for only 25-40% while the remaining ratio is for retail banking services. Nam added, the potential of retail banking in Vietnam remains high but first, Vietnam needs to boost multi-media transaction channels.
In HCM City, 2 out of 3 people use an ATM card, 18.3 people use an international card. Total number of ATM cards in the city until September 2008 reached 3,849,475 while the number of international cards is 492,140.