Bank card issuance to double

HA NOI — The domestic bank card market may see a boom this year, following reports of high growth by commercial banks, who expect to double their card issuance by the end of the year.

The State-owned Vietcombank, currently the country’s largest issuer with 700,000 cards in circulation, estimated that card issuance would reach 1.2 million by the end of the year.

Another State-owned commercial bank, Agribank, has reported significant growth, with the 50,000 new cards issued in the first four months of the year bringing its circulation total to 150,000, and Incombank has noted similar developments.

Nguyen Tu Anh, the head of Vietcombank’s Card Department, said banks’ efforts to expand card functions to include facilities like electricity, telephone and water bill payment services is the main reason for the card boom.

According to Gordon Cooper, the manager of Visa’s office for Viet Nam, Laos and Cambodia, there is great room for the development of payment cards in Viet Nam, as there were only 760,000 domestic cards in use at the end of last year despite there being around 10 million economically eligible citizens.

Visa is planning to launch its first debit card in Viet Nam, in the hope of capturing a chunk of this large potential market.

Cooper said several banks have expressed interest in issuing Visa debit cards, and the company is working with them to launch the card by the end of this year.

Viet Nam News, May 17, 2005