The two largest payment card networks in Vietnam, Vietnam National Financial Switching Joint Stock Company (Banknetvn) and Smartlink Card Services Joint Stock Company (Smartlink), were officially merged on December 25.

The two firms started merging works since 2012 under the direction of Governor of State Bank of Vietnam (SBV).

On December 22, 2014, the Prime Minister allowed the pair to enjoy a 5-year economic concentration status. Another 5-year extension will be automatically awarded if no breaches are found.

Speaking at the merger contract signing ceremony, SBV Deputy Governor Nguyen Toan Thang expected the merged company would complete several key tasks, notably building a national standard for chip cards to be compatible with international ones and ensure national benefits at the same time.

He expressed his hope that the alliance will open up opportunities for the development of smart card payment in Vietnam and become a regional rival.

The firm will examine and rearrange the commercial banks’ ATM and POS systems to improve the effectiveness and service quality, reduce costs and develop added-value services on a unified switching system.-VNA