Vietnam's interbank e-payment system handled 37 million transactions worth nearly 21 quadrillion dong ($896.2 billion) in the first quarter of the year, up 23 per cent and 17.8 per cent respectively compared to last year, according to the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV).

SBV Payment Department deputy head Nghiem Thanh So said domestic payment of bank cards continued to increase in the period, reaching 65 million transactions worth a total 171 trillion dong.

The number and value of transactions performed online in the first three months of the year rose by 68.8 per cent and 13.4 per cent over the same period last year. Most banks have brought new technologies into their payment activities while accelerating modern and safe payment methods to attract consumers.

Infrastructure and technologies for non-cash payments have seen increased investment and improved quality.

By the end of March, the country had 18,668 ATMs and 261,705 POS cards.

Nguyen Thi Hien, deputy head of the central bank’s Banking Strategy Institute said non-cash payment activities had seen positive changes since last year. However, the country should have more solutions to encourage new payment methods.

Vietnam is aiming to cut the ratio of cash transactions to 10 per cent lower than the national plan of non-cash payment market for 2016-20.

According to the central bank’s statistics, more than 90 per cent of the country’s population are not accustomed to online and mobile payments.

At present, commercial banks have applied advanced technologies such as QR codes and contactless payment to enhance service security and clients’ satisfaction.

According to PwC’s 2019 study on 27 nations and territories, mobile payments in Vietnam are growing fastest globally.

The country now has 76 organisations providing payment through the internet, with 41 offering mobile payment services.

Vietnam E-commerce Association (Vecom) vice chairman Nguyen Ngoc Dung said many Vietnamese people shop online by paying in cash as both sellers and buyers were hesitant to pay fees to banks for their transactions.

He said Vecom would work with organisations providing payment services through internet and mobile phone to reduce fees and promote non-cash payment.

National Payment Corporation of Vietnam (Napas) deputy director-general Nguyen Quang Minh, deputy general director of said seven banks will start issuing ATM chip cards that meet EMV standards – a worldwide standard for payment cards that provides global interoperability between all cards and the acceptance network – to replace magnetic strip cards starting from May 28.

They are Vietcombank, VietinBank, BIDV, Agribank, Sacombank, TPBank and ABBank, which have issued about 70 per cent of the cards in the country.

Some other banks have also registered with Napas to do so.

The SBV plans to complete 30 per cent of the task this year and replace all 75 million magnetic strip ATM cards in the country by the end of 2021.

The central bank also chose June 16 as cashless day in Vietnam to encourage cashless shopping and transactions. Consumers will enjoy preferential policies from credit institutions, payment intermediaries and retailers, service providers. VIET NAM NEWS/ASIA NEWS NETWORK