Visa strives to promote credit card service

December 29, 2015 | 09:45
Speculation on high surcharges associated with credit card use has constrained credit card growth in Vietnam. Sean Preston, chief representative and country manager for Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, of Visa International (Asia Pacific) LLC – a subsidiary of the US-based Visa Inc., talks to VIR’s Trang Nguyen on the issue and his high hopes for credit card growth in Vietnam in 2016.

visa strives to promote credit card serviceThe number of Visa users seems to have outgrown MasterCard users in Vietnam at the moment. What is your view on this, and what is your strategy to further boost your presence here in Vietnam?

There are more than 2.4 billion Visa cardholders across the world enjoying the convenience, security and reliability of using our products at tens of millions of merchants worldwide. This is all part of our vision to be the best way to pay and be paid for everyone, everywhere. Visa cards can be used to make purchases online, when travelling overseas, and in fact, anywhere around the world where you see the Visa logo. Our global payments network, VisaNet, provides advanced security and risk management that protects cardholders against fraud, theft, or unauthorised account use.

In terms of how we’re building our presence here in Vietnam, there are really four key pillars. First, we believe education is of the utmost importance to ensure that Vietnamese consumers are equipped with the knowledge necessary to make the best financial decisions. To do this, we run an extensive financial literacy programme and are working with the public to help them understand how electronic payments can benefit their lives.

Second, our banking partners are an incredibly important part of the way that we connect with cardholders. As such, we are continuously providing them with education on our products to ensure that our end customers are receiving the most appropriate products for their financial needs.

Third, we are always seeking to expand our product acceptance, or in other words, locations where consumers can use Visa to pay for goods and services. We do this, again, by working closely with our banking partners, but also with merchants of all industries and sizes.

Finally, we are always looking to improve the payment experience for our cardholders. This can mean anything from innovating with new payment products, such as prepaid cards, or acceptance methods, such as mobile point-of-sale, or mPOS, which we introduced last year.

What is the competitive advantage of Visa’s credit cards over others?

As the market leader, we believe Visa is well-positioned thanks to our global brand, the broad set of Visa-branded payment products and services, our ubiquitous acceptance at tens of millions of merchants around the world, and our proven track record of handling payment transactions securely and reliably through our payments processing network — VisaNet.

Local credit cards users have been experiencing situations where their credit cards have been refused for their purchases at various merchants, and asked to actually pay by their EFTPOS cards. Some retailers have even tacked on an additional 10 per cent fee for credit card usage, a practice that is not legal. Are you aware of such issues? What will Visa be doing to rectify this issue?

Surcharges are fees (either fixed or a percentage of total purchase) imposed by some retailers and service providers when customers use cards to settle payments. Surcharging makes the total cost shoppers have to pay more expensive than it would be if paid in cash.

Visa is opposed to the practice of surcharging because it unfairly shifts the cost of doing business onto consumers who choose to pay with Visa over other forms of payment. At Visa, we work closely with our local banking partners, merchants, and the State Bank of Vietnam to proactively stop this practice from occurring, and to date, we’ve made a great deal of progress in this area.

Many consumers may not fully understand the concept of surcharging, however we believe one of the most effective ways to help stamp out the practice is for consumers to vote with their feet and chose a competing merchant if faced with a surcharge.

What is your expectation of Vietnam’s credit card usage and market in 2016?

We enjoyed a strong performance in Vietnam over the last year. The total payment volume spent on Visa cards in this market grew by 44 percent, while the total number of Visa transactions grew by 41 percent. We have more than five million Visa cards issued in the country and we are constantly working to expand access to electronic payments and provide even faster, safer, and more efficient ways to pay.

Next year, we are expecting to see continued growth in Vietnam’s eCommerce market. The Vietnamese have really taken to eCommerce, and we want to help consumers enjoy shopping online while making transactions safely and efficiently. We are also going to look at rolling out new payment technologies in Vietnam, such as Visa payWave contactless payments, which will help to provide consumers with greater speed and convenience for low value purchases.

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