A “cashless Vietnam” is coming

August 16, 2021 | 15:12
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The pandemic has prompted an inevitable reset in Vietnam’s payment ecosystem and accelerated the non-cash transaction trend that had been already underway. Winnie Wong, country manager for Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos at Mastercard, shared with VIR's Thu Huong how a global leading payments technology company like Mastercard can enhance cashless experience and enable ubiquity of digital solutions in the most secure, convenient approach.

What knowhow and international expertise does Mastercard offer to local banks and fintech players?

A “cashless Vietnam” is coming
Winnie Wong, country manager for Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos at Mastercard

When people think of Mastercard, they only think of the card. Actually, we are more of a payments technology company – with almost all types of payments that customers could look for, and we commit to bringing top-notch services when it comes to contactless transactions.

Banks have been our major traditional, long-standing partners for many years. We have built a very close-knit, trusted relationship with Vietnamese and foreign-invested banks here to address the much-needed demands of both local and foreign customers living in Vietnam.

Going digital is an inevitable trend for banks. Some banks have consulted Mastercard Vietnam to become their digital banking partner, while others offer Mastercard opportunities to improve their banking services to serve consumers digitally.

What we do here in Vietnam is to bring two forms of partnership. One is across our payment tool. Be it virtual, be it wearable, be it QR, we make sure there will be a wide range of payment types to cater to consumers’ diverse needs.

The other is providing value-added services to banks to make sure when they go digital, their security and capabilities are up to speed and, even more importantly, consumers’ transactions are protected to the highest standard.

When going digital, you have to make sure all end-to-end processes are tight and quick and all systems work promptly to ensure information passing from one system to another is safe and protected at all times.

Security threats evolve and multiply as the industry moves towards digital and the payments industry is always a prime target for hackers and fraudsters. State-of-the-art AI-based payment security is a must to stay ahead of bad actors and make sure all transactions are protected. Mastercard provides extensive back-end support and payment system security solutions to banks embarking on digital transformation. We understand that digital-affine customers require seamless experience at the speed of light – and we keep them secure throughout.

What unique technologies does Mastercard offer to ensure the highest level of security combined with a user-friendly experience?

As a tech-driven company ourselves, Mastercard utilises AI to create new customer propositions and distinctive experiences.

For instance, our AI-based biometric safety tool is now an essential part of our security protocols. This tool can remember customers’ features so that even if their phones or passwords come into the wrong hands, we can detect any irregularities – to the point of how the phone is being held – and notify banks to prevent fraudulent transactions.

Moreover, Mastercard’s Digital Identity Services can analyse users’ unique personal characteristics such as fingerprint or facial structure to verify their identity. With our advanced machine learning platform, we can provide real-time mission-critical intelligence from any data source, regardless of type, complexity, and volume.

We are bullish on our international expertise and advanced AI-based technology, which will leverage our capabilities to serve a broader range of customer needs extending beyond traditional payment methods. Our partners, from banks to fintech firms, will also reap significant benefits from our value proposition.

A part of the Vietnamese population is still unbanked and underbanked. How could Mastercard offer non-cash services to this segment to help the country achieve financial inclusion?

Despite the remarkable economic progress, many people in Vietnam are still unbanked, or do not have access to financial services and products. However, in many rural areas smartphone ownership and internet penetration are increasing rapidly. This triggers several questions for Mastercard. How can we use these trends to drive cashless payments in an innovative way? How can we make our customer value proposition more friendly and relevant for users in remote areas without compromising security?

To support the government’s agenda of creating a financially inclusive society, Mastercard has been working closely with financial institutions, merchants, governments, and non-governmental organizations to leverage technologies, resources, and insights.

As an example, most small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Vietnam still operate largely on cash. This has become a major barrier affecting their growth. Over the past years, we have been working closely with our partners to provide solutions for SMEs in Vietnam to eliminate the “digital divide” which limits their access to critical growth-driving tools like digital payments and e-commerce platforms. Last year, when the pandemic hit, we worked with Zoho to help thousands of SMEs get back on their feet with digital tools like accounting software.

On a global scale, we have evolved our commitments to reflect the changing needs of the global communities we serve. Mastercard has already achieved our initial goal of including 500 million people in the digital economy through more than 350 innovative programmes across 80 countries. Last year, we expanded our global commitment to financial inclusion by pledging to bring a total of 1 billion people and 50 million micro and small businesses into the digital economy by 2025. As part of this effort, there will be a direct focus on providing 25 million women entrepreneurs with solutions that can help them grow their businesses.

Vietnam is high on our agenda. With our ambition to go above and beyond to buffer contactless financial solutions, Mastercard is committed to swiftly adapt and make continuous investments to our technology and services to contribute to a more prosperous “cashless Vietnam”, in which no one is left behind.

By Thu Huong

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