Mobile Money usage falls short

December 19, 2022 | 14:22
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After one year of trial operation, the results of Mobile Money services fell below expectations owing to a number of factors, including customer hesitation and legal impediments.

The Vietnam Telecommunications Authority targeted all mobile phone users to have Mobile Money accounts by the end of 2022. But after one year of trial deployment, Vietnam reports just 2.34 million Mobile Money accounts, including 1.62 million accounts open in rural and island areas, accounting for 69.23 per cent of the total.

Three Mobile Money operators – military-run Viettel, state-owned post and telecom group VNPT, and MobiFone – have developed more than 82,200 transaction points connected with over 14,500 card acceptance units.

Mobile Money usage falls short
Customer hesitation is part of the reasons behind Mobile Money's below-expected performance

The number of Mobile Money transactions is around 15 million so far, valued at about $41.3 million.

Pham Anh Tuan, head of the Payment Department under the State Bank of Vietnam, said that despite several initial encouraging results in promoting cashless payment in rural, remote and island areas, Mobile Money deployment had encountered scores of obstacles.

From the user's angle, hesitation in using new tech services with privacy impediments is still common. Meanwhile, service provider networks and payment infrastructure are mainly based in urban areas. The speed of service deployment in rural areas fell below expectations.

From an enterprise angle, there are limited cashless payment services tailored to the diverse needs of customers, therefore failing to stimulate users.

According to Truong Quang Viet, deputy CEO of Viettel Digital, the company is expected to serve 2 million Mobile Money customers, with more than 60 per cent living in rural and remote areas, developing over 3,000 transaction points serving people in rural and remote areas.

“These results still prove modest compared to Mobile Money’s vast potential, especially when Viettel has several dozen million subscribers. There are many reasons to blame the situation, such as customer’s habit of cash payment, privacy impediments, or monthly spending limits,” said Viet.

To facilitate the service, from October 2022, National Payment Corporation of Vietnam (NAPAS) and the aforesaid telcos began money transfers between Mobile Money accounts and bank accounts.

“Connection between Mobile Money and NAPAS is a success to the service we offer on Viettel Money. The customers can now conduct money transfers to over 50 banks connected to Viettel Digital,” said Viet, adding that after three months of deployment, the number of transactions and transaction value had doubled.

More solutions are needed to reach the target of three-digit growth in the number of Mobile Money users in 2023, equal to about 10 million users.

Pham Tien Duing, deputy governor of SBV, stressed the importance of raising the number of payment acceptance points and linking Mobile Money to essential products and service providers.

Pham Minh Tu, deputy director of MobiFone Digital Service Centre, asked for permission to allow the relevant services to be connected to the national database on population to verify the data, connect to each other to form Vietnam’s Mobile Money ecosystem, as well as for the provision of several novel services on Money Money to attract users.

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By Tuan Thuy

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