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NEWS UPDATES 7 June 2010

ATM network push in Vietnam

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Local bank-card companies are promoting the connection of their automatic teller machines (ATM) and point of sale (POS) systems nationwide to create convenience for customers and contribute to the development of non-cash payment tools in Viet Nam.

Ly Thi Ngoc, deputy general manager of Viet Nam Bank Card Joint-Stock Co (VNBC), said in May the number of Smartlink cardholders withdrawing money at the ATMs of Dong A Bank soared to 80,000.

The company has connected with three banks belonging to the Viet Nam National Financial Switching Joint-Stock Co (Banknetvn).

The number of Banknetvn cardholders withdrawing money from ATMs climbed to 40,000 last month.

According to Ngoc, the amount of money Dong A Bank has put into its ATMs has increased gradually every month.

Previously, the bank put around VND3 trillion (US$157 million) a month, but since connecting with the ATM and POS networks, it deposited 3 per cent more in April, and 5 per cent more in May.

The latest co-operation between the VNBC, which has nine bank members, and Banknetvn, with 15 bank members, was the first step to connect the ATM network of Dong A Bank with Agribank, VietinBank and the BIDV.

The VNBC has also connected its ATMs with two banks, Vietcombank and Techcombank, via the Smartlink Card Service Joint-Stock Co, which has a total of 29 bank members. Cardholders of any bank belonging to these bank-card companies can make transactions at ATM machines of the member banks, and use ATMs at the bank-card companies.

Although not all bank-card company members have been connected to members of similar companies, Dong A Bank’s deputy director, Le Tri Thong, said the biggest technical obstacles had been solved.

As a result, after connecting with ATMs, the bank-card companies will create an agreement to connect POS machines. Currently, cardholders can use only the POS machines of their bank-card company. They will have to wait until the third quarter of this year to use the machines of the other two bank-card companies, according to Thong.

“Cardholders of Dong A Bank cannot pay at the supermarket because POS machines of Vietcombank can’t read Dong A Bank’s cards. The POS of each bank-card company is still an oasis,” Thong said.

According to Ngo Ngoc Dong, general manager of Banknetvn, each bank-card company has its own criteria to connect its members. If two bank-card companies connect with each other, that does not mean that their members can connect automatically.

Thong said the VNBC was expected to connect with every member of Smartlink and with at least 60-70 per cent of Banknetvn’s members by the end of the year Cardholders now can make only four basic transactions: checking account balances, withdrawing cash, printing transaction histories, and transferring money between accounts of the bank.

Some banks, including Dong A, are testing money transfer between accounts of different banks.

Currently, the special services of each bank, including paying bills, pre-paying cellphone credit and depositing currency, can be done only at ATM machines of the bank that issued the card.

If people bring their Dong A Bank card to make a transaction at Agribank’s ATM, the card will be swallowed by the machine.

Such problems are not rare because each bank uses different technologies and ATMs of different generations, according to Thong.

The bank-card companies are gradually solving the technical problems related to creating a standard system for their bank members, and are waiting for some banks to change their core banking.

Currently, if ATM cardholders cannot withdraw money, receive counterfeit money, or have their cards taken by the machines, the cardholder must contact the bank that issued the card.

“These problems will be solved within three working days,” Thong said.


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