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Proposed ATM fees unwelcome   2008-06-02 - ThanhNienNews

Since the Prime Minister decided that state employees’ salaries must be paid through bank accounts, Vietnamese people have become familiar with ATM cards. However, everything may change as banks are attempting to collect fees from ATM transactions.


A young staff at Dong Da district’s court said that she began receiving her salary via a bank account in January. She earns VND1mil a month which she spends on leasing an accommodation, food and basic needs.


She said that if banks collect VND2,000 ($0.125) for every transaction (the average fee as announced by the Card Association recently), she will certainly draw money only once a month, when her salary is put in the account, and keep cash at home, instead of keeping money in the account.


A retired man in Cau Giay district in Hanoi, after hearing the news about the possible ATM fee collection, said that he will not use an ATM card anymore if he has to pay for transactions.


A student related that previously, his parents had to send money to him via the post’s money remittance service, or via a bus driver or relatives, who went from the village to Hanoi, and had to pay VND5,000 for the service. The student said that he is happy with the ATM card, because it allows him to get money from his parents without any fee. “However, if banks collect ATM fees, this will be like sending money via a bus driver,” he said.


By the end of the first quarter of 2008, Vietnam had more than 4,500 ATMs, 15,000 POS and 10mil cards.


Prior to January 1, 2008, the deadline for paying salaries to state employees via bank accounts, Vietnam had 4,000 ATMs, 12,500 POS and 8.5mil cards


This means that in the first three months of the year, Vietnam had 1.5mil new card users. If Vietnam maintains the current growth rate, it will have 14mil ATM cards by the end of this year.


However, though the number of ATM cards is increasing, the quality of services is not improving. In mid May, Vietcombank, which now has the biggest card market share, released a report which said that clients make complaints about 1,200 of the total 3mil transactions made every month through the ATM system of Vietcombank’s card alliance (0.04%).


“Banks should collect fees because they want to improve service quality, not because they aim to get money to cover the expenses of buying ATMs,” a client said.

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