VN banks rush to cash in on digital wallet

Monday, Oct 09, 2017 10:05

On September 13 Samsung launched its mobile payment service, “Samsung Pay”, in partnership with the National Payment Corporation of Viet Nam (NAPAS). — Photo

On September 13 Samsung launched its mobile payment service, “Samsung Pay”, in partnership with the National Payment Corporation of Viet Nam (NAPAS). Like Samsung, Apple also plans to bring its digital wallet, “Apple Pay”, to Viet Nam soon.

At the Mobile World Congress held in Barcelona, Spain, earlier this year, Viet Nam’s military-owned telecom group Viettel also introduced many of its telecom-based apps and gadgets for a smart society, including the V-Wallet, which is also expected to come to the country soon.

Alipay, a third-party mobile and online payment platform belonging to China’s Alibaba Group, is also seeking a licence in Viet Nam.

The presence of Samsung Pay and the imminent entry of many foreign and domestic tech giants into the mobile payments market mean banks are feeling the pressure to enter the market quickly so that they are not left behind.

The Dau tu (Investment) newspaper has revealed that the Military Joint Stock Commercial Bank (MB) is joining hands with Facebook to develop “Facebook Payment” in the country.

On September 20, the Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Investment and Development of Viet Nam (BIDV) and VNPT Media Corporation signed a deal to provide integrated services between the payment intermediary (VNPT Pay) and BIDV for end-customers.

The services that will be deployed include collection services, payment gateway services and e-wallet services, aiming at improving service quality and expanding non-cash payment facilities for their customers. With BIDV-VNPT Pay, users do not have to worry about costs or service suspension due to late payment.

Earlier, VNPT Media, a member of Viet Nam Posts and Telecommunications Group (VNPT), launched an electronic payment gateway dubbed “VNPT Pay”. The service is designed to expand non-cash payment facilities for VNPT customers.

BIDV and five other banks have also tied up with Samsung for its Samsung Pay.

Also in September LienVietPostBank signed a memorandum of understanding with two Japanese investors, MKI and Doreming, to implement automated solutions to human resources management and salary payments for companies via Vi Viet e-wallet that allows customers to pay bills and fees and transfer and receive money quickly.

The Bank for Foreign Trade of Viet Nam (Vietcombank) has expanded its co-operation with VietUnion to use the latter’s Payoo e-wallet services to push up its mobile payment activities.

VietUnion offers Payoo e-wallet, an electronic account functioning as a wallet in the Internet to assist its users in buying and selling, as well as making transactions on e-commerce websites and internet communities with payment activities.

A spokesperson for a local bank said domestic tech companies are also eager to introduce e-payment services.

Together with the foreign giants, they are a major threat to local banks who fail to embrace technology and quickly get into the mobile payment market, he said.

He said the number of smartphone users has increased rapidly, causing a concomitant increase in the use of e-payment services.

There are some 35 million smartphones in Viet Nam.

According to statistics from the Ministry of Industry and Trade, at least 25 per cent of online buyers shopped using their smartphones in 2015.

Tech giants have capitalised on the consumer trend to offer mobile payment services.

Because of this, many banks have had to quickly acquire new technology and create new products to keep pace.

Le Ngoc Lam, deputy general director of BIDV, said in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, tie-ups between banks and tech companies are a sound way to enhance the strengths of both sides.

The turnover of non-cash payments have been increasing sharply at local banks.

Vietcombank for example saw online payment transactions in the first half of the year rise to 36 million, or 60 per cent of last year’s number. Their value is growing annually at 150 per cent.

The bank has tied up with several tech giants to offer various kinds of payment services like Momo, Paywoo and Moca.

Seafood shares sink

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, exports of agricultural, forestry and seafood products in the first nine months of this year were worth nearly US$27 billion, up 14.1 per cent from the same period last year.

Seafood accounted for $5.91 billion following an 18.1 per cent rise.

Seafood is one of the agricultural sector’s biggest export earners but shares of seafood companies are not doing too well.

In fact, despite decent results, only a few like the Ben Tre Seafood Import and Export Joint Stock Company (ABT), Minh Phu Seafood Group (MPC), and Vinh Hoan Seafood Joint Stock Company (VHC) have managed keep their heads above water.

Hung Vuong Joint Stock Company (HVG), once a darling of investors with its price climbing to VND50,000, has been on a relentless downward trend and dropped below its face value of VND10,000.

Some other seafood shares are not traded much and face a big liquidity problem – like the Hung Hau Agricultural Joint Stock Company and the Ngo Quyen Seafood Export and Processing Joint Stock Company.

Analysts said one of the main reasons for investors’ indifference to seafood shares is that they are risk-prone.

Seafood businesses often face difficulties while their markets at home and abroad are volatile.

Many of the companies have invested in inefficient non-core activities, which hit their bottom lines.

The Nam Viet Joint Stock Company (Navico) used to be the industry leader a decade ago, but is now in the doldrums after sinking nearly VND1 trillion (about $4.3 billion) in fertiliser, insurance and banking businesses.

Hung Vuong Joint Stock Company, which used to be “King of pangasius” and the biggest tra fish exporter in Viet Nam, is laden with debts of VND12.35 trillion after unsuccessfully getting into other businesses like pig farming, processing plants and cold storage systems.

Dau Tu Chung Khoan (Securities Investment) newspaper reported that the company had suffered losses of VND140 billion in the two quarters up to March 31 this year.

Analysts from the Sai Gon Securities Company (SSI) told the newspaper that investors are also concerned about seafood export markets.

The biggest buyers of Vietnamese seafood are the US and European countries.

But the US market is gradually closing because of protectionist policies in the form of both tariff and non-tariff barriers, thus affecting Vietnamese exporters.

European countries are still struggling with recession and their seafood imports from many countries including Viet Nam are sharply down with few signs of a recovery yet. — VNS

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