The pandemic accelerated the digital transformation of many industries, including retail, entertainment, and banking. Vietnam was no different.
The country has almost 100 million people, yet only 30% of the population has a bank account. Even more amazing is the fact that only around 2% of people have a credit card.
As you can see, there’s a lot of room to grow for digital banks. Even more so if we know that around 70% of people have a smartphone and 66% have internet.
It’s also one of the first countries that have successfully piloted 5G networks.
The country is also known as a startup hub for fintech companies and is expected to have at least 10 tech unicorns by 2030.
In 2018, the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) introduced a development strategy for the banking sector until 2025. It includes revising existing legislation to support credit institutions, banks, and fintechs adopting new technologies, such as cashless payments and e-KYC.
If the legislators manage to keep up with the technology, the revenue from digital financial services could reach $3.8 billion by 2025, and mobile transactions could increase by 300% in the same period.
Some of Vietnam’s incumbents have successfully modernized their traditional banks by deploying full-service digital banking apps.
Vietcombank and BIDV, both major state-run banks, come to mind as examples of successful core banking and payments system modernization.
Then there are neobanks such as MoMo, VNPay, Cake, Timo, and others that have launched to great success.
Vietnam’s top payment app MoMo has doubled its transactions since 2020. And VNPay saw a 600% increase in payment transactions. Both challenger banks benefited greatly from the pandemic.
Here are the major digital banks in Vietnam in alphabetical order. They include traditional banks that have launched digital bank accounts as well as neobanks launched by fintech companies, often in collaboration with other fintechs or incumbents.
The Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BIDV), a state-owned bank, launched BIDV iBank, a digital banking app for business customers. It’s a seamless, cross-platform online banking service ecosystem.
With a variety of smartly designed products, service features friendly and modern interface, BIDV iBank offers an optimal experience for customers.
Businesses can carry out financial services (domestic and international money transfers and money transfers according to the list), non-financial services (account inquiry, card management, digital signature management, etc.), and centralized cash flow management (automatic money transfers, cash flow management…).
Other features and products include:
- Automatic salary payment
- Online term deposit
- Paying to the State budget (pay taxes and fees, pay social insurance, health insurance)
- Carry out trade finance transactions
- Buy and sell foreign currencies
The Vietnam Prosperity Commercial Joint Stock Bank (VPBank), besides having its own digital banking app, also launched neobank Cake in partnership with ride-hailing app Be, owned by Be Group Joint Stock Company. This was back in January 2021.
Just like other digital banks, the Cake app lets you open an account, transfer money, or pay bills without the need to visit a branch.
Cake has no service, management, or account maintenance fees, as well as no transfer fees. Account owners get a free International Mastercard that allows for fast and convenient contactless payments.
The cards come in four bright colors, and you can withdraw money with them on 630+ VPBank ATMs and more than one million Mastercard-supported ATMs worldwide.
And perhaps the best selling point of Cake is the 3.6% savings interest rate. That’s 18 times higher than the typical regular account interest rate of 0.2%.
FinFan is another commercial digital bank account. It’s a one-stop shop for businesses wanting to pay, receive, and transfer money worldwide.
It’s notable as the first fintech company to be licensed in Vietnam. The company was founded in 2007, and since then, it has grown remarkably to become the largest money transfer company in Vietnam.
FinFan is considered to be one of the key players in the digital banking revolution in the country.
The company became the first neobank in Vietnam to implement the Ripple XRP blockchain network and its global financial payments network called RippleNet, which includes more than 300 financial institutions worldwide.
This enabled FinFan with a real-time bridge between the multi-currency exchange that could be instantly settled in the destination countries on a 24/7 basis.
MoMo has been on the Vietnamese market for more than ten years already. It started its journey as an e-wallet. However, now it’s considered by many to be a financial super-app.
To date, the company has been funded by Goldman Sachs, Standard Chartered, and other well-known VCs to the tune of $434 million.
It’s no wonder, considering the app has more than 30 million users. Despite being a super-app, MoMo has a friendly interface and is easy to use. For that reason, all ages and professions can use MoMo easily and conveniently.
MoMo provides a multitude of features that range from money transfers, savings deposits, investing, and loans to entertainment, travel, and donations.
MoMo does not mandate a minimum account balance and doesn’t have initialization fees, usage fees, or any other hidden fees.
Its wallet is now directly connected to more than 25 banks. With the MoMo wallet, customers can pay for all daily utilities such as cable TV, internet, electricity, or water, buy airplane, car, or train tickets, make taxi payments, buy movie tickets in all theaters, book maid services, buy fresh flowers, or get installment loans of all financial companies or use MoMo to pay at MoMo pay points.
Timo is a challenger bank that was founded in 2015 and, in partnership with Viet Capital Bank, offers a private banking experience without the need to maintain a huge balance in your account.
From transferring money to paying bills and shopping online, Timo enables fundamental payments and banking requests without demanding customers visit a physical branch. They can also instantly open a bank account without heading to the bank to enlist.
Taking advantage of technology, Timo is poised to bridge the gap between customers and banking services in this digital age.
What makes Timo unique is that you aren’t wasting time because the Timo app has a friendly and easy-to-use interface. There are also no hidden fees and a choice of fixed or flexible savings options.
Timo gives you full access to your account to perform all your banking services at any time, while all your money is safely secured at Viet Capital Bank and protected by the State Bank of Vietnam.
TNEX is focused mainly on Gen Z, or zoomers, which are expected to grow to 15 million by 2025, by offering a fee-free digital banking app. It’s a brainchild of Maritime Bank (MSB).
TNEX came out in phases. First, in August 2020, the digital bank launched TNEX Merchant to create its ecosystem. Second, in November 2020, customers were able to download its full banking offering. Finally, TNEX rolled out a series of credit products for merchants.
TNEX’s offering combines game tech, messaging, socials, and a full-merchant ecosystem with a complete payments network.
They invested heavily in the graphics of its application, turning TNEX’s banking experience into a highly personalized virtual world that’s especially inviting to the aforementioned Genzers.
To join TNEX, there are only four easy steps:
- Download the TNEX app from IOS/CH Play
- Open an account
- Take pictures of CMT/CCCD (both front and back)
- Take a face detection photo according to the instructions
- Confirm added personal information and enter OTP
TPBank is one of the best and most popular digital banks in Vietnam. It has won numerous awards, including the “Best Digital Banking App” award by Global Brands Magazin.
It’s easy to see why, as they have some innovative banking products. For instance, all their checking accounts have zero fees, and you can even open a checking account with a customized account number or a nickname instead of the number.
There are also many savings accounts that you can open. For example, there’s the foreign currency account without term, regular term savings with interest paid periodically, at maturity, or even at the beginning of the term.
You can also get a domestic debit card, an international debit card, or an international credit card.
TPBank also offers many insurance products as well as loans.
Apart from a personal account, there are also business accounts on a separate platform that include account management, savings accounts, international transfers, loans and financing, guarantees, Forex service, etc.
Übank launched its digital banking app at the end of February 2022. The fintech company is located in Ho Chi Minh and is backed by VPBank.
Apart from a regular account that offers all the usual benefits and a high savings interest rate of 3.6%, you can also open an ÜPayroll, a salary-linked account with added benefits such as:
- Financial support up to 10 times the salary
- Unlimited cashback up to 1.2% (0.2% more than standard account)
- High saving interest +4.0% (0.4% more than standard)
- No fees
- Free processing of loan applications
- Free insurance package up to 100,000,000 VND/year from OPES
What sets apart Übank and other digital banks from traditional banks is the ability to use money in your account but still enjoy interest rates from the remaining balance.
And, because Übank is backed by VPBank, you can avail of 240+ VPBank branches that support depositing money to your account, 630+ VPBank ATMs ready for withdrawing money, and 200+ VPBank CDMs nationwide serving for automatic cash deposit demand.
Vietcombank was founded way back in 1963 and is currently the leading commercial bank in Vietnam, with total assets of 50 billion USD.
Vietcombank currently has over 18,000 employees with a wide network of operations throughout Vietnam, including the Head Office in Hanoi and over 550 branches and transaction offices nationwide.
Vietcombank consolidated two separate transaction platforms – Internet Banking and Mobile Banking into a unified app called Digibank. This means that customers can now have:
- Uniform username and password. Customers will no longer have difficulty remembering two separate login names and passwords at the same time.
- VCB Digibank username is the phone number registered by the customer with the bank.
- Users will have a single online transaction limit, up to 1 billion VND/transaction for ordinary customers and 3 billion for Priority Banking
- Enhanced security
- Receive balance fluctuations via OTT messages. The OTT Alert is integrated right into the VCB Digibank application, replacing SMS notifications, and helping customers with cost-saving
- Easily make financial transactions, payments, and shopping
The bank has some big plans for the future. VCB’s strategic goal for 2025 and vision for 2030 are:
- To consolidate its number 1 position in Vietnam
- To be one of the 100 largest banks in Asia
- To be one of 300 major financial and banking groups
- To be one of the 1000 largest listed companies in the world
VNPay is the leading financial services company in Vietnam that, first and foremost, provides electronic payment solutions, but also e-wallets, money transfers, phone top-ups, bill payments, train and flight tickets, and much more.
Its mobile banking app allows customers to manage accounts, perform financial transactions, do card management, do QR code money withdrawals, save, and other added features.
VNPay’s goal is to build an ecosystem where mobile banking apps are developed by VNPAY on mobile platforms integrated with the latest technologies such as Big Data, Blockchain, AI, VR/AR, and IoT.
To do this, the fintech company is applying state-of-the-art programming strategies that are allowing for fast and accurate data processing and guaranteeing high-security prerequisites.
VNPay’s banking partners that are using the service include: NamA Bank, OceanBank, Saigonbank, BIDC, Agribank, Eximbank, HDBank, VietinBank, BIDV, Vietcombank, NCB, VietBank, ABBANK, Indovinabank, SCB, and others.
Vietnam Prosperity Joint Stock Commercial Bank, or VPBank for short, is one of the earliest-established joint-stock commercial banks in Vietnam.
It has several digital banking products and apps, but it also has one that is directly connected to its core banking product. It’s called VPBank NEO.
It’s a convenient and secure way to manage all your accounts, open a savings account, complete money transfers, pay bills, get loans, activate and secure cards, and more.
VPBank was the only Vietnamese financial institution to be honored by The Digital Banker magazine. It got the “Best Mobile Banking Initiatives 2021” for its NEO app launched in 2021.
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Last, but not least, Zalo Pay. A mobile payment app with many outstanding features. Zalo Pay is supported by 39 banks, financial switching organizations, and three international card organizations.
Zalo Pay was built on top of an already existing platform – the most popular messaging app in Vietnam – Zalo.
Zalo has more than 100 million users, thus enabling the company to take advantage of its brand and big data.
E-wallets are extremely popular in Vietnam and Asia in general, and they now enable users to do much more than simply keep money in them for payments and transfers.
With tens of millions of digital-ready customers and 70% of the population still unbanked, the prospect of digital banking in Vietnam looks very promising. In fact, it looks very similar to that of Mexico, which we recently covered.
However, the two countries face similar issues on the way to digital transformation, and especially digital banking.
First of all, the neobanks all seem to focus on the middle class – the urban citizens, and not on the unbanked that commonly come from rural parts of the country.
Slow regulatory reforms are also holding back challenger banks, however, that seems to be changing in recent years.
Skilled professionals are also in demand but there’s not enough of them so all the companies are competing for the same pool of people.
Some digital banks are also unable to attract investors at a desired rate meaning they’re much slower at scaling their companies.
All in all, digital banking seems to be on a right path and the rate of unbanked people of Vietnam will hopefully go down by a lot as having a bank account is one of the prerequisite of a thriving economy and successful people.