VBSP driving digital finance to aid the disadvantaged
AlexisLamington 26-05-2023, 01:24

At the seminar, VBSP delegates shared their experiences of helping customers, especially the poor, in remote and rural areas to access banking services on their mobile phones.

With support and cooperation from DFAT, TAF, Mastercard and other technology partners, VBSP’s Mobile Banking project has successfully developed a digital financial platform suitable for its target customers.

The deployment of mobile-based financial services kicked-off with the launch of an SMS Messaging service from VBSP, followed by the trial implementation of a Policy Credit Management app, and most recently the launch of the VBSP SmartBanking app.

At the seminar, Tran Ngoc Hien, head of a Savings and Credit group in Phong Dien district in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho, recalled that in the past, she had to visit several dozen households each day until late in the evening to collect money and as a result, errors were inevitable.

“The Policy Credit Management app is so efficient. Now the work has become much simpler, with fewer errors,” said Hien.

Nguyen Thanh Huong, head of a Savings and Credit group in Buon Ma Thuot, Dak Lak province in Vietnam’s Central Highlands, shared that within just two months, she could use all the functions on the app easily.

“The new app helps minimise errors and save time. To make a transaction, I just need to transfer money to the relevant VBSP unit and wait for the credit staff there to check the figures,” said Huong.

Nguyen Thi Thanh Tra, a resident of Gio Linh district, Quang Tri province, shared a story at the seminar about growing oyster mushrooms for commercial purposes for nearly a decade now. Initially, Tra sourced money from her family members and relatives. Her oyster mushroom products gradually became more and more popular and are now highly sought after by her customers. Her average income approximates $450 a month, and at peak times she hires local labourers to meet the seasonal demand.

Tra noted that she has learnt much from the success stories of women who are in business for themselves and about how they managed to increase production efficiency through VBSP's Policy Credit Management.

According to Hoang Minh Te, deputy general director of VBSP, the bank has been applying digital technology in its banking activities since 2017 with its SMS Messaging services. Receiving text messages one month ahead of repayment deadlines and the closure of accounts has helped customers to be more proactive and manage their finances and savings better.

Receiving text messages one month ahead of repayment deadlines and the closure of accounts has helped customers to be more proactive and manage their finances and savings better.

Nearly four years after deploying its SMS Messaging service, as of June 2022, nearly 32 million messages had been successfully sent to almost 6 million customers, with around 90 per cent of VBSP customers registering their mobile phone numbers with the bank

The Policy Credit Management app was launched in 2021 to ensure quick and smooth implementation of policy credit activities by VBSP employees and relevant stakeholders, helping to save costs and manpower efficiently.

Two years since its launch, the Policy Credit Management app has been used by almost 50,000 people in 26 localities, including by over 25,000 heads of Savings and Credit groups.

In order to diversify and improve access to non-cash payment services for more of its customers, the bank launched the VBSP SmartBanking app to make transactions possible anytime, anywhere. The app was used by almost 75,000 people and hosted more than 640,000 transactions, with values equal to almost $235 million in its first three months of deployment.

Addressing the seminar, To Huy Vu, deputy director general of the International Cooperation Department under the State Bank of Vietnam, said,“ Although digital finance has brought inspiring results, many challenges persist regarding the management and supervision of apps, transparency, safety, and quality of infrastructure."