Vietnam Business Channel

Vietnam wants urban residents to pay bills without cash

The Vietnamese government has just announced a goal to have cashless transactions made viable for all household bill payments by the end of 2019.A recent government resolution on enhancing the business environment to improve competitiveness and labor productivity contains also contains a push to accelerate the use of cashless transactions.

The national government has tasked municipal and provincial leaders to upgrade their infrastructures to allow all schools and hospitals to collect their bills and fees by cashless transactions. Additionally, utility bills for electricity, postal services, sanitation telecommunications and water are also affected, and ordered to implement cashless payment systems for customers of these services.

The government has recommended that establishments prioritize mobile payments and payment utilizing card reader systems, and requested that the task be completed before December this year. Notably the government's resolution does not include rural and remote areas since the majority of people living in these areas lack access to modern payment methods.

The State Bank of Vietnam has been asked to come up with solutions that would promote the use of electronic wallets, wherein users can deposit cash into their e-wallets without the need for a bank account. The central bank has also been asked to find ways to remove imitations on e-transactions before the third quarter of this year.

The State Bank must also require commercial banks and intermediary payment service providers to implement the QR code standard, and work with the Ministry of Finance to come up with a list of the types of transactions that have to be done through banks. Additionally, the State Bank and Ministry of Finance are asked to draft amendments to existing regulations to promote cashless payments for real estate transactions.

Vietnam Electricity, the national utility, has been asked to ensure that power companies work with banks and intermediary payment service providers to collect electricity bills via cashless methods. The utility has also been tasked with promoting the use of electronic and mobile payments, with a goal for 2019 of doubling the number of customers using e-payments to pay their electricity bills.

According to a recent World Bank report, Vietnam has the lowest percentage of cashless transactions in the region with at only 4.9%. In comparison, in China has a 26.1% rate, while this figure is even higher for Thailand with a 59.7% rate.

Vietnam rolled out an e-payment system for taxes in 2014 and 95% of companies are registered into the system, yet only 70% of tax money is collected via this method and many businesses prefer paying their tax bills with cash.

Similarly, Vietnam has policies in place to encourage consumers to pay their monthly electricity bills through banks and intermediary payment service providers, yet only 20% of consumers pay their electricity bills through these channels.