The State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) will this year complete all related legal frameworks for the use of plastic money – credit and debit cards, as well as other forms of electronic payment.

It will also release national criteria for the issuance of domestic credit cards and implement a project to develop automatic payment systems for retail banking services.

These steps will be taken as part of the implementation of a five year (2011-15) project approved by the Prime Minister to promote the use of credit and debit cards.

Next year, the SBV will submit to the government an ordinance on limiting cash payments. Another ordinance will expand and complete the infrastructure needed to link the State treasury with the electronic inter-bank payment system.

The central bank will also release incentive policies offering tax breaks to those who accept point-of-sale (POS) machines for payment and step up inspections of those who refuse to install them with the aim of avoiding tax payments.

In 2014, pilot projects to install modern payment systems in remote and rural areas will be carried out and in 2015, real estate and other large value transaction will be made through banks.

While this is being done, measures will be taken to ensure that the quality and effectiveness of POS payments is increased.

Attention will be paid to making payments through cell phones and the Internet and priority will be given to ensuring security for electronic payments.

The payment of salaries through bank accounts for State employees will reach 65 percent by the end of this year and 80 percent by 2015.

At present, the use of credit cards is increasing in popularity with 52 organisations issuing them under 300 brand names. As many as 44.6 million cards are in use now, 12 times the number in 2006. Of these, 94 percent are debit cards, 2.5 percent are credit cards and 3.5 percent are prepaid cards.

"Commercial banks have made huge investments in plastic money infrastructure," Bui Quang Tien, head of the SBV's Payment Department, told the Thoi Bao Kinh Te Vietnam (Vietnam Economic Times) recently.

By the end of April, about 13,700 automated teller machines (ATMs) and 83,000 POS machines had been installed, a six-fold increase over 2006, he said.

"Card holders now can implement their transactions through different ATMs as well as a national link of 32,000 POS machines, and this number is increasing," he noted. -VNA