Banks do away with physical offices to aid digital services

September 03, 2021 | 10:00
As Vietnam implements strict social distancing measures, banks have been stretched thin with some temporarily closing their brick-and-mortar offices to help customers go digital.
Banks do away with physical offices to aid digital services
Banks do away with physical offices to aid digital services, Illustration photo

Hoan Kiem District People’s Committee in Hanoi has issued Decision No.3973/QD-XPVPHC sanctioning a VPBank branch in Hai Ba Trung street for not reporting its recent COVID-19 cases. According to the decision, the branch was fined $8,260.

Meanwhile, the Vietnam Banks Association (VBA) has sent a document to the people’s committees of cities and provinces, requesting further support for vaccination for bank officials and workers.

“Although the government, the Ministry of Health, and local authorities have specified bank staff as the prioritised group for vaccination, until now the number of officials and employees receiving vaccines remains limited,” the VBA stated.

“Due to the nature of the banking industry, many employees have to physically work in the office and regularly interact with customers. Therefore, the best solution at present is to promote vaccination for bank staff,” the VBA added.

In these challenging times, banks are redoubling their efforts to smooth customers’ transition to digital means. However, a minority of branches are being allowed to open in case of emergency.

Nguyen Hoang Minh, deputy director of the State Bank of Vietnam’s (SBV) Ho Chi Minh City Branch emphasised, “Due to the latest wave of infections, more than 300 branches and transaction offices of commercial banks are temporarily shut down. However, all banks will ensure smooth payment activities to address the customers’ demands, and all ATMs are always open for people to withdraw cash.”

A representative from Viet Capital Bank told VIR that the bank had to temporarily shut down some of its branches and transaction offices in the city due to the pandemic.

“Despite temporary closures, we are managing our services on an integrated online platform and a user-friendly portal. We believe an effective approach in this health crisis is clear communication in an advanced digital infrastructure – our digital banking “Digimi”. Viet Capital Bank is fully equipped to help customers maintain their banking needs and discover new services remotely,” the representative said.

Another southern-based bank, OCB, also announced the closure of 26 of its 30 branches and transaction offices in order to implement social distancing.

The remaining four locations that are still operating are its main Business Centre in District 1 as well as branches in Thu Duc, Tan Thuan, and Tan Binh.

Other commercial banks such as HSBC Vietnam, ACB, Eximbank, VPBank, Techcombank, and Shinhan Bank also announced the temporary closure of many offices and branches and maintained only a few other transaction points to meet the needs of customers.

From August 23 to September 6, VIB would maintain 11 branches and transaction offices in Ho Chi Minh City to serve the needs of customers in District 1, Phu Nhuan, Go Vap, Binh Thanh, District 5, and District 7. VIB also encourages customers to make online transactions via the MyVIB app or internet banking.

Meanwhile, Sacombank has arranged for employees to work at home as well as at transaction points. “Currently, Sacombank’s system can fully address customers’ transaction needs, including both in-person and online transactions. We also prepare contingency plans and ATM funding plans to ensure operation in difficult situations and a smooth supply of cash for the people,” the bank’s representative said.

Nam A Bank also announced the temporary suspension of a number of business units in Ho Chi Minh City to ensure pandemic prevention at the request of the local authorities. Transaction points will be temporarily closed from August 23 until further notice.

Currently, Nam A Bank only maintains a few branches and offices to serve customers at the Business Centre in District 3, Ham Nghi in District 1, and Ly Thuong Kiet in District 11. The bank encourages customers to use the Open Banking application for payments, transfers, and open online accounts via the electronic Know Your Customer method (eKYC).

“As soon as the pandemic is brought under control in Ho Chi Minh City, banks will reopen. At the moment, customers are encouraged to adopt cashless payments and limit contact in a bid to reduce the risk of infections,” said Minh of the SBV.

By Celine Luu

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