Firms offering e-wallet services to get licences

Vietnamese businesses will be granted licences to provide e-wallet services from March 2015, after five years of a pilot programme.

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The State Bank of Viet Nam (SBV) has issued Circular 39, stipulating the regulations for intermediate payment services. Accordingly, e-wallet will be recognised as one of the payment services, together with other types such as collection and payment services.

Non-banking organisations in the pilot implementation can complete the required procedures and apply for licences.

The licences issued during the pilot scheme will be invalid by the end of next year.

The e-wallet service was first introduced in Viet Nam in 2008 in the context of an urgent need for payment methods for e-commerce activities. However, all nine businesses that were issued licences to implement the service were part of the pilot project, as the country did not have a specific legal framework covering the payment service.

A representative from the central bank said that Circular 39 will be the foundation for the development of the service.

However, the SBV asked enterprises providing e-wallet services to open an account to ensure payment, limit risks and refund money to customers in case of emergencies.

It has to be ensured that the payment is not more than the total balance of all their e-wallets at the same time.

The businesses are not allowed to issue more than one e-wallet to a payment account at a bank, as well as give credit to customers or pay interest rates. Activities to increase the value of the money in the e-wallet are also prohibited.

E-wallet providers are required to have a tool for the central bank to carry out checks and inspections of the customers' money.

Deposits or withdrawals from e-wallets have to be made through bank accounts.

Statistics from the central bank showed that at the end of 2013, the country had 1.84 million e-wallets, with a total transaction of VND23.3 trillion (US$1.1 billion).

The figure was said to be modest in comparison with the non-cash payment market in Viet Nam.

There were 66 million units in the card market alone, with $52 billion worth of local transactions at the end of last year.

E-wallet is virtual money created in mobile phones or other electronics devices, including computers and chips, and used as a non-cash payment method.

Users don't need a real wallet or cards, but only a mobile phone to pay bills or do e-commerce activities.


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