TrueMoney Vietnam (“TrueMoney”), part of Southeast Asian Fintech company Ascend Money, has obtained the Intermediary Payment Services License from the State Bank of Vietnam to operate digital financial services in e-money, e-payment, wireless transfers, and payment gateways.
Tanyapong Thamavaranukupt, President of Ascend Money, said, “Winning the license to operate digital financial services cements our presence in Vietnam, an important market for Ascend in our expansion throughout Southeast Asia. This means TrueMoney is now able to deploy a broad range of safe, affordable and convenient digital money solutions to Vietnam’s population of 90 million. In particular we hope to provide equal access to financial services for the unbanked.”
Consumers can now use TrueMoney Wallet to make online purchases, pay bills and top up their pre-paid mobile and gaming cards, as well as to transfer money from their bank accounts to the digital wallet and from their wallet to other wallets. Offline and online merchants can use TrueMoney’s system as a payment gateway. Companies will soon be able to disburse payroll to their employees via TrueMoney Wallet.
TrueMoney has a network of over 5,000 agents across 40 provinces in Vietnam. Agents are small business owners who conduct financial services for customers, enabling the largely underserved Vietnamese population to access fast and easy services such as top-up and bill payment near their location. TrueMoney Vietnam will soon offer additional financial services such as loans and insurance, in the second quarter of 2018.
Vietnam has one of the lowest banking penetration rates in the region, with only one third of the population having an account with a formal financial provider, compared to the regional average of 69%.
“While Vietnam has the potential to surpass China in GDP growth by 2020, the country urgently needs to connect its people and businesses to financial services, to reap the benefits of inclusive growth. As Southeast Asia’s fastest growing mobile commerce market, as well as one of its largest unbanked populations, Vietnam poses a key opportunity for TrueMoney to innovate and scale,” Tanyapong continued.
TrueMoney, an e-payment and financial services provider for digital and unbanked consumers, is the only Fintech company with e-money licenses to operate financial services in Thailand, Myanmar, Indonesia, Cambodia, Philippines, and Vietnam. Across Southeast Asia, Ascend Money has reached over 35 million customers in 2017 and aims to reach 100 million customers by 2020.
Vietnam, along with the Philippines, Indonesia, and Myanmar, has been identified by the World Bank as among the top 25 countries to focus strategic efforts on financial inclusion. According to the World Bank, in 2014 Vietnam had the lowest credit card usage in Southeast Asia, and only 50 per cent of the debit cards in circulation were in use.
Tanyapong added, “The blurred lines between the unbanked and the underbanked—those with formal access but limited engagement—points to the need for not just access to bank accounts, but the regular use of banking in the daily lives of the population. This means that digital financial services can reach a much larger segment of the population if delivered through a comprehensive platform—addressing not just the need for a digital wallet, but also broader daily needs of merchants and users to transition from offline to online payment methods seamlessly. By strengthening the overall prevalence and convenience of e-money in daily life, Ascend Money plays a leading role in unlocking the potential of the digital economy in Southeast Asia for digital consumers and the underbanked alike.”
Vietnam is the second country in the region to launch TrueMoney Wallet after Thailand. Following the successful roll-out of TrueMoney Wallet across Thailand in major retail outlets such as 7-Eleven convenience stores, with almost 10,000 branches nationwide, Ascend has continued to expand in markets that are among the region’s lowest in financial inclusion rates.
TrueMoney Wallet was officially launched in Vietnam this year during the Lunar New Year with the TrueGift campaign, in which celebrities and users sent virtual red packets (hongbao) to their fans and friends to celebrate the special holiday.
The Asian Development Bank estimates that bringing digital financial services to Southeast Asia’s unbanked population can boost the GDP of economies by as much as 6%.