Since she had no cash, she had to call a friend and tell her to bring some cash.
It was the first time in six months that the 27-year-old office worker from Hanoi’s Cau Giay district had to use cash. She made bank transfers to shop at the restaurant.
“I don’t even carry my wallet when I go out. All I need is a phone with 4G,” Thuy explained.
She says that even at weddings, funerals and gas stations, it is now possible to transfer money online, eliminating the need to carry cash.
Thanh Duong, 22, a student at Hanoi University, also went completely digital two years ago.
Every month, her parents deposit money in her bank account to cover school fees, housing and daily expenses.
“Because everything can be paid electronically, I even forgot ATMs exist,” he jokes.
Dr. Tran Manh Dung, former Head of Training Department of Banking Academy, says, “Online payment has crept into every corner and aspect of life, not only in cities but also in rural areas.
He says the pandemic has influenced people’s payment habits.
A person makes a payment using a QR code at a store in Hanoi’s Dong Da district. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Trang
A study on consumer attitudes towards payment released by global digital payment company VISA in June this year underscores what Dung is saying.
He revealed that 65% of Vietnamese consumers said they have less cash in their wallets and 32% said they would stop using physical money after the pandemic.
Nearly 76% of people now use mobile wallets and even more (82%) use cards.
Statistics from the State Bank of Vietnam for the first four months of this year show that cashless payment transactions increased by 69.7% in volume and 27.5% in value.
They included transactions using the Internet, mobile phones and QR codes.
The total number of activated e-wallets increased by 10.37% compared to the end of last year.
Vietnam’s National Payment Company (NAPAS) says it is currently processing 2.8 million cashless transactions worth nearly 21 trillion VND ($898.7 million) per day.
“I’m confident that I’ll be okay with living a cashless lifestyle.
Duong says, “Whenever I take a bus to my hometown in Nghe An province, I always book in advance and pay online. When booking bus tickets or cinema tickets or purchase of food, some e-wallets even give me 10-20%, sometimes even 50%, discount.”
He says many of his friends also follow a cashless lifestyle.
Thuy says, “Many vendors in a market near me have also started accepting online transfers because they fear being robbed or find it easier not to have to count the money and return currency to customers.
She’s gotten into the habit of checking before buying something, and if the seller only accepts cash, she looks for another place to buy.
Not only young people, but even middle-aged people unfamiliar with technology are open to switching to cashless mode.
Nguyen Hoa, 60, who sells chicken at Hanoi’s Hoang Mai market, says many customers ask to pay online rather than cash.
She says: “Initially, I was afraid of being deceived. But my kids encouraged me to open a bank account, print the account number on a piece of paper, and hang it at the store to make it easier for customers to pay.
She used to sell an average of 10 to 15 chickens a day, but since she started accepting online payments, especially during the pandemic, the number has doubled or even tripled.
Some other market traders are also following his lead, as customers increasingly prefer not to use cash.
“Since the money is transferred instantly, I feel secure as I no longer worry about missing out or overpaying for a transaction or getting fake bills like I used to,” Hoa added.
Manh Cuong, 60, from the southern province of Dong Nai, started experimenting with cashless payment methods in 2020 to limit physical contact as Covid-19 raged.
He asked his daughter to help him install an online transaction application.
“It was a bit difficult for me to navigate the app in the first days because there were so many functions, but after a few transactions I found it to be simple to use and very convenient.
“From home, I can buy whatever I want and transfer money from my savings account to my e-wallet without having to physically go to the bank.”
Additionally, he could send lucky money online to his grandchildren who were living away from home amid the outbreak.
A store with a QR code for payment at a traditional market in Da Nang in late 2021. Photo courtesy of Viettel
“But people, especially first-time adopters, need to exercise caution.”
He says potential risks include money transfer fraud, sending OTP (one-time password) codes and send money to the wrong account number.
In Vietnam, fraud related to electronic transactions is on the rise. Banks have recently issued warnings about new methods used by criminals to steal OTP codes and obtain data, connect to people’s e-wallets and make withdrawals.
Thanh Ha, 30, from Hanoi was scammed.
In June, she needed to transfer money quickly, but the bank’s transaction app was down and she couldn’t log in.
Someone called from an unknown number at noon that day, pretending to be a bank clerk and telling her how to fix the problem.
Without hesitation, she followed the instructions to log in using the link sent to her phone number, hoping to transfer some money as soon as possible.
She received a notification a few minutes later that 100 million VND had been transferred from her account, but she could not reach the number from which the person called her.
She said with a sigh, “If I notify the bank, they’ll order me to report it to the police. But my chances of getting the money back are next to nil. I know I was duped.”
Experts advise customers not to reveal their card number or CVV number and expiration date on the back of credit cards to limit risk.
Thuy says she will continue to use cashless methods as it is too convenient.
“Any means of payment has risks and flaws; even cash can be stolen or accidentally left behind. However, I prefer digital payment because it is simple and [modern].”