Mobile banking for the poor in Vietnam

Mobile banking for the poor in Vietnam

Round 1 Vietnam ICT/Financial Inclusion Active



Partner contribution

$ 1,560,000

DFAT contribution

$ 780,000

Icon Total Funds

Total Value

$ 2,340,000

Start: September 2019 - End: October 2022


The Vietnam Bank for Social Policies

The Vietnam Bank for Social Policies (VBSP) is a government-owned bank, taking the lead in policy and the microfinance field in Vietnam. It enables financial inclusion of the poor and policy beneficiaries through grassroots networks, appropriate infrastructure, socialised procedures and skilled staff.

The Asia Foundation

The Asia Foundation (TAF) is a non-profit international development organisation committed to improving lives in Asia. With 60 years’ experience, TAF aims to strengthen governance, empower women, expand economic opportunity, increase environmental resilience, and promote regional cooperation. Access to decent work and livelihood support for vulnerable populations is a key priority in Cambodia for TAF, and this initiative builds upon research and a pilot study, led by TAF, that identified a demand for job information in the apparel segment of the applied labour sector.


MasterCard is an American multinational financial services corporation. Its principal business is to process payments between the banks of merchants and the banks or credit unions of the purchasers who use MasterCard.

About this partnership

This partnership brings together the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), the Vietnam Bank for Social Policies (VBSP), The Asia Foundation (TAF), and Mastercard in an initiative to improve access to digital financial services in Vietnam for low income customers.

The first phase of this initiative (September 2016- August 2018) established SMS banking and reached 5.1 million customers. The initiative has been extended to further expand VBSP’s digital financial services to include mobile phone banking services. The second phase of this initiative is supported by DFAT through the Australian Embassy in Hanoi, Vietnam.

The second phase of this initiative (2019-2022) will establish VBSP’s mobile banking platform and prioritise women who face difficulties accessing mobile phone technology (as identified in a gender assessment). VBSP and Mastercard will develop the platform together and provide financial literacy training to 51,000 people. It is expected that 2,350 people will adopt the mobile banking platform by the end of year three.

Phase One (2016 – 2018)

Partner contribution: $1,999,200
DFAT contribution: $500,000

Officially launched by the partners in February 2017, Phase one of this initiative comprised of two stages. Stage 1 established the foundations for mobile banking including investing in software and hardware to enable SMS notifications to VBSP customers and educating both VBSP staff and customers in the new technology service. Training programs and orientation materials were developed for bank staff and customers on the introduction of SMS notifications.

Stage 2 comprised of the building and roll out of the mobile banking platform. Unexpected challenges led to substantial changes and delays largely around upgrades to the VBSP IT system, technology transference and changes to Vietnamese cybersecurity laws resulting in the planned use of Mastercard’s existing Financial Inclusion cloud platform – hosted outside Vietnam – to no longer be viable. The VBSP is now building its own platform that will be owned and managed by the bank, enabling it to provide mobile banking and eventually other digital financial services to meet the increasing and diverse needs of its clients in the long term. This will require significant technical input from Mastercard with the new platform tentatively planned to go live by the end of 2020.


The first phase of the partnership exceeded planned targets, reaching 5.1 million clients (51 per cent of whom were women) across 63 VBSP branches with SMS account-related notifications such as repayment schedules and monthly account balances. Training programs and orientation materials were developed for VBSP staff and customers on the introduction of SMS notifications.

Given the number of customers with low levels of education and literacy, the bank included face-to-face orientation and hands-on guidance by trained VBSP staff. In a review of the initiative’s first phase, 90 per cent of customers said they highly valued the service and were interested in continuing to receive account related information via SMS.

For more information on phase two:
Press release from the Vietnam Bank of Social Policies


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