Vietnam urges retailers to ditch cash for plastic

By VnExpress   January 6, 2017 | 12:04 am PT
With online sales booming in the country of 93 million, it's time for shoppers to embrace e-commerce.

Vietnam is trying to convince at least 70 percent of its citizens aged 15 and over to open bank accounts and about 50 percent of urban residents to switch to non-cash payments via debit and credit cards by 2020.

Online retail revenue is forecast to hit $10 billion in the next four years, accounting for 5 percent of the country's total retail market, which grew 10.2 percent last year to $118 billion.

The government has officially rolled out its e-commerce development plan for 2016-2020 to tap into the fast-growing consumer population with a huge demand for online shopping.

According to one estimate, about 30 percent of the population will buy goods and services over the internet and spend an average of $350 per year online by 2020.

In 2015, Vietnamese shoppers spent $4.07 billion online, a jump of 37 percent from the previous year, according to the Vietnam E-commerce Report, adding that revenue from online retail accounted for 2.8 percent of the country's revenue from the sale of goods and services in the same year.

With a population of 93 million, Vietnam was ranked as the smallest e-commerce market in Southeast Asia in terms of sales just three years ago. Now online retail is gaining momentum with the country's 49 million internet users increasingly turning to online shopping.

According to Internet World Stats, Vietnam is currently ranked 18th in the world in terms of the number of internet users, with mobile subscription rates as high as 40 percent.

In order to increase non-cash transactions, the government will require all supermarkets, shopping malls and convenience stores to accept payments via credit and debit cards.

It is forecast that in the next four years the number of supermarkets will nearly double to 1,300 and shopping malls to 300, according to the government’s plan.

Spending at supermarkets, convenience stores and shopping malls is expected to rise to 45 percent of total consumer spending by 2020, up from 25 percent now, government data shows.

The government also wants 70 percent of utility service providers including telecommunications companies and electricity and water suppliers to move their billing online.

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