Banks have said they will try to keep a smooth ATM service during the upcoming lunar New Year (Tet) when the demand for cash sharply increases, the Dtinews reported on January 8.

Labourers in industrial zones often line up in front of the ATM machines, hoping that they will not run out of cash or have technical problems. The demand for cash always skyrockets on the approach of the longest and most important annual festival in Vietnam, which will falls by the end of January this year.

Huong, an employee at Hanoi's Bac Thang Long Industrial Park, said last year, her company paid wages later than usual because of slow business. "I stood in line for two hours, but when it was my turn, the money had run out. I tried another machine, but it was also out of cash. The third machine gave me a torn note," she said.

Many ATM machines in Ho Chi Minh City are already overloaded. An employee of a company named Tan Tien said he waited for over 30 minutes at a VietcomBank machine, but the lines were so long that he decided to go home.

Dao Minh Tuan, deputy head of VietcomBank, said they are planning to refill the machines three times a day this year, while the machines at industrial zones will be refilled six to seven times a day. However, he said, due to the holiday traffic, these refills may be delayed at times.

Deputy governor of the State Bank of Vietnam Dao Minh Tu said: "We have asked the industrial zones to pay wages on different days so the ATM machines won't be overloaded. We also asked them to try to pay in cash."

Meanwhile, smaller banks such as Tienphong Bank and OceanBank are confident they can meet customer demand. Tienphong Bank will not even collect service fees for customers using other banks' machines. A representative from the Vietnam Bank Card Association said the busiest time of the day for withdrawals, between January 26 and 28 (December 26-28 on the lunar calendar), is from 5pm-7pm.-VNA