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Banks asked to explain ATM fees   2009-01-22 - VNE

Governor of the State Bank of Vietnam Nguyen Van Giau has released a dispatch asking the Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BIDV) and Vietnam Bank for Foreign Trade (Vietcombank) to give explanations about their collection of ATM fees on transactions made with cards of other banks.


Banks begin collecting ATM fees, quietly


Two other banks which have also been collecting ATM fees, the Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Agribank) and Vietnam Industrial and Commercial Bank (Vietinbank), have not been asked to explain themselves.


The banks are now collecting VND3,300 on each cash withdrawal made with a card from a bank of the same alliance. In addition, cardholders have to pay VND1,650 to print a receipt.


However, cardholders were not warned about the fee collection; they only learned of the implementation of the fees when they checked their transaction bills.


BIDV said that the bank would give an explanation on the ATM fee collection to the governor of the State Bank of Vietnam today.


In fact, BIDV began collecting ATM fees in mid 2007. After that, when Banknetvn and SmartLink were connected, the bank allowed cardholders of allied banks to withdraw money from BIDV’s ATMs free of charge.


However, since September 2008, BIDV has resumed collecting fees from the cardholders of the other banks, but it only announced the collection of the fees on January 20, 2009 on the bank’s website.


Prior to that, Vietcombank explained to the State Bank of Vietnam that it had announced the fee collection already, but the announcement was not available on the home page of the website, so few people knew about it. Vietcombank on January 21, 2009 put an announcement on its home page.


Other member banks of Banknetvn and SmartLink have not collected ATM fees yet. However, sources say that they are planning to collect fees from cash withdrawals made by cardholders of other banks.


According to Le Dao Nguyen, Deputy General Director of BIDV, the bank needs to collect the fees to pay the unit in charge of processing the transactions of Banknetvn and Smartlink. He said that BIDV has had to pay over VND1bil to the networks recently.


“If no fee is collected, banks will still issue cards, but they won’t spend any more money on ATMs, on hiring places to install ATMs and on maintenance, as clients can go to any ATM to make transactions,” Nguyen said.


On January 20, tens of clients were seen waiting impatiently at Vietcombank’s ATM on Phung Khac Khoan, district 1, HCM City; no one used Techcombank’s ATM on Mac Dinh Chi street, not far from the Vietcombank ATM, because they didn’t want to be assessed fees.


A staff of the Southern Weather Station at No 8 Mac Dinh Chi in district 1, HCM City, related that she and her colleagues have accounts at Vietcombank. Previously, they withdrew money from Techcombank’s ATM located in front of their office. However, no one has made transactions at the ATM since they heard about the fee collection.


The number of clients withdrawing money from ATMs has been increasing these days as they need cash to pay for commodities for Tet. It is estimated that the number of transactions at ATMs has increased by 2-3 times.


Banknetvn and Smartlink card alliances now have 24 member banks, while VNBC has 10. According to the HCM City Branch of the State Bank of Vietnam, banks in the city have issued 4.2mil cards, and installed 2,257 ATMs. Some 146,000 employees in the city are now getting paid via their bank accounts.

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