With security threats becoming more sophisticated, banks needed to ensure security of payment card data, delegates told a seminar in Ho Chi Minh City last week.

Bui Quang Tien, director of the State Bank of Vietnam's Payment Department, said that commercial banks in the past few years had implemented several measures, including investments to modernise their information networks and enhance IT applications, to increase non-cash payments.

Tien spoke at a conference organised by the Vietnam Banks Association and technology consulting firm Komtek.

With the development of bank cards and internet banking, non-cash payments have become increasingly popular in the country, he said.

"Besides the advantages of convenience and savings, payment-card services also have risks for both banks and customers," he said. "Security issues have become more and more vital."

Ha Huy Tuan, vice chairman of the National Financial Supervisory Committee, said the 2013 information security index of Vietnam, the VNISA Index 2013, was 37.5 percent. Last year's index was 26 percent.

"Despite having a considerable increase, the figure is far below other countries in the region, including the Republic of Korea, at 62 percent. High risks still exist," he said.

According to Tien, more crimes related to payment cards have increased in Vietnam. Criminals were using more elaborate methods that are hard to detect.

"Criminals have also varried their methods to neutralise security methods used at banks," he said, adding that many card users were not aware of the importance of data security.

Hrishikesh Sivanandhan, head of Consulting Delivery at Paladion, said: "Although fraud varies by geography, there are a number of ways in which fraud is consistent across geographies," including a high level of innovation in online fraud.

Real-time fraud was on the rise as well as insider involvement and collusion, he said.

With mobile devices quickly emerging as the primary computing device, they would become a key attack vector for cyber-criminals, he added.

Delegates at the seminar urged the government to complete a legal framework, and issue regulations on ensuring security, prevention and control of violations related to payment cards, ATMs, POS (point of sale) and other payment methods using hi-technology.

Banks were encouraged to move from magnetic cards to chip technology for higher security, they said.

Delegates also called for closer co-operation between banks and agencies in preventing and detecting threats involved in payment cards.

They said that banks should also map out plans on crime prevention and control, including organising training courses for employees and co-operating closely with authorities to fight theft and fraud.

As of the end of October, the country had about 64 million payment cards issued by 52 card issuers. There were 14,700 ATMs and 122,000 POS machines nationwide.-VNA