Vietnam banks pledge to bring deposit rates to below 15 pct

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Hanoi- and Ho Chi Minh City-based commercials banks have promised they would keep interest rates on dong deposits at below 15 percent, ending a rate race triggered by Techcombank on Wednesday.

At a working session between the State Bank of Vietnam and 12 commercial lenders in Hanoi on Thursday, and another session between the central bank's HCMC branch and lenders in the city a day later, the commercial banks agreed to set the dong deposit rate to a maximum of 14 percent per year starting December 11.

In case of promotions, the real interest rate on dong deposits will not exceed 15 percent, according to the agreement.

The Vietnam Bank Association said this commitment of 15 percent per annum was a legally binding agreement, not a negotiation for voluntary action that took place about one month ago, when commercial banks agreed to keep the savings rate at below 12 percent but "silently" increased the rate several days later.

The association said any bank violating the new commitment would attact penalties.

On Wednesday, Techcombank ignited an interest rate race when it announced a promotion program titled "Three golden days" under which dong depositors would receive rates as high as 17 percent per year.

Other lenders reacted by pushing their own rates up, some as high as 18 percent.

But these offers were rescinded after the central bank requested them to bring the rates down to prevalent market levels 14 percent or less.

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