Government-owned Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group (VNPT) and rival MobiFone have received one of the country’s first trial mobile money licences from the State Bank of Vietnam
This month has seen two mobile operators in Vietnam launch trials of mobile money services for the first time, having been awarded licences to do so from the State Bank.
The pilot programme will allow Vinaphone (VNPT) and MobiFone mobile customers to use their mobile subscription as a bank account, capable of paying for goods and services as well as depositing, withdrawing, and transferring money.
The announcement follows Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s decision back in March to allow telecoms operators and e-wallet providers to apply for two-year licences to trial mobile money services.
MobiFone was the first operator in the country to acquire a licence on November 18. In the first phase, the operator’s customers would be able to use their mobile money services at around 600 transaction points around the country, with MobiFone saying they would increase this number to over 10,000 in future through various partnerships.
Today, VNPT’s Vinaphone has announced that it too has been granted a licence and is launching mobile money services around the country. VNPT already owns a business network of over 10,000 transaction points and has a further network of 200,000 associated business locations in 63 provinces and cities, giving it a nationwide scope.
Vietnam currently has around 125 million mobile subscribers around the country, while only 64% of the country’s adult population has bank accounts. As a result, the Vietnamese government considers mobile money as an ideal solution to help close the digital divide in remote and rural areas, helping unbanked customers engage with the digital economy.
For many years now, Africa has been the most successful region to implement mobile money, but the services are becoming increasingly available across Southeast Asia as telcos look to expand beyond their traditional voice and data business model.
For Vietnam, the question is now whether Viettel, the country’s largest mobile operator, will also be launching a mobile money pilot. The state-owned operator had applied for a mobile money licence alongside VNPT and MobiFone, but as yet has not announced if their application has been successful.