Vietnam banks petition to increase ATM fees

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Local commercial banks have again petitioned the State Bank of Vietnam to allow them to charge all customers for using automated teller machines to withdraw money.


The proposal has been turned down three times before. 


Currently customers are only charged when they withdraw money from other banks' ATMs, at VND3,300 (US$0.16) per withdrawal.


In the latest proposal, members of the Bank Card Association also want to increase the current fees to VND5,500.


Nguyen Thu Ha, chairwoman of the association, said the increase will help generate income to maintain and improve security at ATMs around the country.


Ha said that banks have had to invest huge amounts of money to bolster security following a recent spurt in ATM thefts.


Director of a bank's card center, who wished to remain anonymous, said cardholders usually withdraw money soon after it is deposited or transfer it to deposit accounts to benefit from interest rates.


He said big banks have to keep at least VND400-500 million ($19,417-24,271) at every ATM, or around VND500-600 billion ($24.27-29.13 million) for thousands of ATMs. The money does not earn them any profit.


The association members said the ATM usage charges will also encourage small banks to invest in their own ATMs.


In related news, Ha on Monday said the State Bank of Vietnam has suspended licenses to open new ATMs and bank branches.


Details of the suspension will be announced later, according to Ha.


As of last year Vietnam had 11,700 ATMs, a 20 percent increase from the year before. Six major banks Agribank, Vietinbank, Vietcombank, Dong A, BIDV, and Techcombank account for 70 percent of all ATMs in the country.


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