One month after Vietnam announced plans to pilot mobile money services across the country, and eight months after Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc signed off on approval of the pilot programme, MobiFone has become the first Vietnamese operator to be permitted to provide mobile money services in the country.
The company received permission to offer the services from the State Bank of Vietnam on 18 November.
This is a two-year pilot. The service provision will continue until 18 November 2023. Local press reports explain that during this period customers can use mobile accounts to make transactions such as payment, money transfer and saving. They can also withdraw cash in banks and via MobiFone transaction points across the country – without having their own bank accounts.
In the first phase, MobiFone will provide mobile money services via a network of 600 transaction points. It aims to expand the service coverage to more than 10,000 transaction points via its partners and dealers.
In July three operators – Viettel, VNPT and MobiFone – applied for the opportunity to implement their own mobile money pilot projects. It’s not clear when or whether the other two operators will join MobiFone.
However, there is definitely demand for such services: there are nearly 125 million mobile phone subscribers in the country, but only 64 percent of adults have bank accounts. MobiFone’s service is expected to make e-payment more widely accessible, especially to people in rural, mountainous and remote areas.
As has been the case in many other countries, cashless payments have grown in popularity in Vietnam during the Covid-19 pandemic as customers have tried to limit physical contact to stay safe.