As the Tet Lunar New Year Holiday fast approaches, Vietnamââ‚¬â„¢s prime shopping season is in full swing, but ATM users say a dearth in cash machines is keeping their pockets empty most of the time.
After waiting in line for 30 minutes at a Vietcombank ATM on Ky Dong Street, District 3, Uyen excitedly approached the machine to withdraw her salary and Tet bonus.
As she isnââ‚¬â„¢t allowed to withdraw more than VND2 million (US$108) during each transaction, Uyen had to tediously reenter her card time and time again as an agitated and anxious group of ATM users waited in line behind her.
But before Uyen reached her VND20million daily limit, the machine ran out of money. The crowd behind her shouted in an uproar when she announced the news.
Thanh Nien found similar scenes were taking place at ATMs across the city.
At a Vietcombank ATM station on District 1ââ‚¬â„¢s Bui Thi Xuan Street, two of the machines were out of order while a long and perturbed line waited and waited for the machines that were working.
Duc from Phu Nhuan District said he often had to drive long distances across town and several districts to withdraw his salary.
Earlier this week, he attempted to collect his Tet money by first riding his motorbike to Suong Nguyet Anh Street, District 1, where one of the two ATMs had broken down. He retrieved VND1 million there before the machine ran out of money.
At the intersection Cach Mang Thang Tam and Nguyen Thi Minh Khai in District 3, Duc found four machines. But one was broken down while the three others were surrounded by long, discouraging lines.
Only when he reached two ATMs on District 3ââ‚¬â„¢s Truong Dinh Street ââ‚¬" one of which was under repairs ââ‚¬" could Duc withdraw enough money, he said.
Nhan from District 1 said she had encountered other ATM problems.
She said that when she tried to withdraw money from a machine at Diamond Plaza, the ATM refused to give her cash, but deducted the funds from her account anyway.
The bank told her to wait for seven days until it could verify the incident before returning the money to her account, she said.
Experts have long said that Vietnamââ‚¬â„¢s ATM problem is simply that it doesnââ‚¬â„¢t have enough machines.
It is estimated that more than 19 million ATM cards are currently in use in Vietnam, while around 9,000 machines have been set up nationwide so far.
This means each machine serves over 2.1 million card users, compared to one machine for every 440 card users in 2002.
Experts have said that local banks are often unwilling to develop their ATM systems as each machine costs thousands of dollars and requires them to deposit VND800 million every day for withdrawals.
Reported by Thanh Xuan