The number of bank cards issued in Vietnam rose to 60.15 million as of the end of the second quarter this year, up 10.8 percent against late last year, the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV)'s Payment and Settlement Department has reported.

The department said that roughly 3.05 million new cards were issued in Q2 alone, up compared with the first quarter when 2.81 million new cards were issued.

Total trading volume via cards in Q2 reached 27.89 trillion VND (1.297 billion USD) with 6.57 million transactions, up 17 and 60 percent against the same period last year.

Of the total, there were 54.89 million domestic cards, accounting for 91.25 percent of the plastic used in the country.

They included 55.75 million debit cards, 2.09 million credit cards and nearly 2.31 million prepaid cards.

At the end of June, the country had 14,410 ATMs and over 111,000 points of sale. However, millions of bank accounts are mainly used to withdraw cash rather than make payments via cards and banking facilities.

This is due to the fact that most businesses do not encourage the use of cards for payment.

In many supermarkets and shopping centres, customers who use cards for payment are not entitled to discounts and other sales promotions, so they often withdraw cash from ATMs before a trip to the market.

To accelerate non-cash payments, experts emphasised the important role of relevant ministries and agencies. For example, the Ministry of Industry and Trade regulates that all shopping centres and restaurants should have the facility to accept payment via bank cards, and the Ministry of Finance should issue a tax reduction policy to encourage their use.

The central bank is also drafting a decree under which individuals will not be allowed to pay for securities, houses, land and vehicles including cars and motorcycles using cash.

Organisations will not be permitted to use cash for transactions in real estate, securities, aircraft, ships or cars, regardless of the value. There will also be a limit on the amount that individuals and organisations can be paid in cash.-VNA