Electronic wallets will be officially recognized as a payment support service under a Circular from the central bank.
The State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) has issued Circular No.39 guiding the intermediary payment service known as electronic wallet (e-wallets), officially recognizing it as a payment support service like e-transfer. E-wallets are an online prepaid account where consumers can stock money, to be used as required. As it is a pre-loaded facility, consumers can buy a range of products, from online airline tickets to groceries, without using a debit or credit card.
Non-bank organizations licensed to launch pilot e-wallet services from March 1, 2015 by the State Bank of Vietnam can complete and submit profiles to receive the license, which will expire in December. Launched in Vietnam in 2008, to provide appropriate payment methods for the e-commerce market, nine enterprises have been issued licenses by SBV, with the service being a pilot scheme due to the absence of a specific legal framework.
A representative from the SBV's Payment Department said the Circular will be the basis for e-services development. The central bank also required e-wallet businesses to open secured accounts to limit risks and provide refunds to customers when problems occur or upon request. The balance of the secured account is to be no less than the total balance of all consumers’ e-wallets.
E-wallet providers are not allowed to issue more than one e-wallet to a single payment account of a consumer, must not extend credit to consumers, must not pay interest on the balance, and must not perform any action that increases the value of the balance in the e-wallet. They must have tools allowing the State Bank to monitor the total amount of money in a consumer’s e-wallet and the total amount of the secured account. Cash loading and withdrawals must be conducted through the payment account of the consumer.
According to SBV, as at the end of 2013 there were 1.84 million e-wallets in Vietnam, while total trading volume for the year was VND23.35 trillion (approximately $1.1 billion); a modest figure compared with the size of the country’s non-cash payment market. There were over 66 million credit and debit cards in Vietnam as at 2013, with total domestic transactions standing at up to VND1,100 trillion ($52 billion).