Bank services falter, overwhelmed by Tet demand

By Nguyen Hoai   February 1, 2019 | 11:05 pm PT
Bank services falter, overwhelmed by Tet demand
A man withdraws money from an ATM in Hanoi, Vietnam. Photo by Reuters/Kham
Many bank services including online transactions and ATM withdrawals are failing, unable to cope with high Tet related demand.

Internet banking, touted by many banks as a solution for high money demand during the Lunar New Year holiday (Tet), repeatedly showed errors on Friday, the last working day of the old Lunar Year. 

Tu, a resident of Hanoi’s Hoang Mai District, had to wait from 3 p.m. till 9 p.m. for her online transaction to be successful, as opposed to less than five minutes on a normal day.

"It’s a struggle to transfer money online these days. The system keeps saying it is overload, and even informed me that my account has zero Vietnamese dong," she said.

Hoang of Thanh Xuan District had to repeat his transaction many times. "I needed to transfer VND3 million ($129.17) but it didn’t go through the whole afternoon."

Internet banking of Techcombank, Vietcombank and Agribank was repeatedly showing errors. Some customers got to the last step of entering the one-time password (OTP), but transactions failed even at that stage.  

Many customers also had trouble just withdrawing money from ATMs. Almost a dozen people had queued up on Friday at an ATM on Duy Tan Street in Hanoi as some users struggled for 15 minutes without getting any money. 

Others who were not patient enough left for other ATMs. Dung, an employee of a media company, was queuing at one of the ATMs after unsuccessful attempts at three different ones to withdraw his Tet bonus. 

Bank branches were busy with a large number of customers on the last working day. Uyen stepped into a bank on Tran Thai Tong street in Hanoi to see 30 people already waiting, all looking tired.

The situation is similar in Ho Chi Minh City. 

Trang, a bank staff, said that employees had been working till 8-9 p.m. in recent days. "Some of us didn’t even have time to have some water."

A bank representative who asked not to be named said that demand for money withdrawal has increased exponentially as the holiday nears. 

His bank doubled its ATM cash fund but it is still not enough. Internet banking has also reported errors because of large number of users.

The State Bank of Vietnam had warned local banks of the high demand for banking services demand before and during Tet holiday which falls on February 2-10, saying that any bank with an ATM out of cash for over 24 hours would be fined. 

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