THE Bank of the Lao PDR (BOL) is drafting a plan to promote cashless payments and to facilitate and manage money transactions in Laos.
Use of e-wallets through the banking system is fast becoming a trend among city dwellers. They pay their taxes, utility bills, bills for goods and services and other money transfers using their mobile phones. It is no longer necessary to stand in long queues to make these payments.
Acting Director-General of the Payment System Department, Soulysak Thamnuvong (pictured, Facebook), told Vientiane Times on Friday that the plan to promote cashless payments is expected to be submitted to the government by the end of this year.
The government, commercial banks, business operators and members of the public are placing a lot of importance to cashless payments as it is a useful mode of payment.
Some banks have launched QR codes and apps for use by their customers. They can transfer money through these systems using their bank accounts.
Banque pour le Commerce Exterieur Lao Public (BCEL) has already provided various payment options to its clients such as BCEL One or BCEL One Pay.
Kasikorn Thai Bank in cooperation with Lao Telecommunications Public Company also introduced the QR KBank application. It expects this e-wallet service to increase the number of users to 120,000 this year, up from 1,500 people last year. Traders and other people can use this app to make payments or money transfers using the QR code.
Other banks are also providing a similar service.
The government, private companies and other entities are focusing on making more transactions possible through the banking system.
The Ministry of Finance in cooperation with some banks has created applications to enable people to pay various taxes such as road tax, property tax, and value-added tax.
Business operators are also using e-wallet to avoid fraud.
Even as bankers have developed facilities for cashless payments, customers still face hurdles as they can make payments at banks where they have accounts, Soulysak said.
To address this issue, BOL has authorised the establishment of the National Payment Network to connect banks. It is a collaboration between seven commercial banks in Laos and China’s UnionPay.
The network will enable customers to transfer money from all these seven banks.
Authorities at the Payment System Department believe that cashless payments are useful, not just for ordinary people, but also for the private sector. There is no need to take cash and the state is able to plug revenue leakages as payments are transparent.
However, the immediate switch from using cash to going cashless is impossible as Lao people are used to making cash payments – not just for Lao kip, but also foreign currencies, officials said.
Authorities say that if entrepreneurs provide more payment options, people will be able to go cashless more easily. VIENTIANE TIMES/ASIA NEWS NETWORK