Vietnamese consumers were using 76.13 million bank cards as of October, up 15 percent against December last year, according to statistics from the State Bank of Vietnam.

This number included 68.08 million domestic cards and 8.05 million international cards.

While commercial banks offered several promotion programmes to encourage the use of credit cards, these accounted for barely 4 percent of total bank cards. Only 3.04 million were credit cards while 69.83 million were debit cards and 3.26 million were pre-paid cards.

The growth rate of credit cards also declined from last year to 25 percent.

The central bank also reported that the country had 15,809 automated teller machines (ATMs) by October, up 3.6 percent against last year. This included 159,067 point of sale (POS) devices, up 23.1 percent against last year.

The Government aims to cut cash payments from 14 percent of all transactions in Vietnam in 2011 to less than 11 percent by the end of 2015.

The plan also focuses on the development of card payment services, with the aim of developing 250,000 POS that can accept about 200 million card payments per year by 2015.

Industry insiders said that bank cards were currently not widely accepted, and that electronic payment methods must be diversified to support the development of e-commerce in Vietnam.

The SBV recently established an interbank electronic payment system connecting 66 members under the SBV and 463 branches of 94 credit institutions in order to create conditions for the development of e-commerce.-VNA