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Digital payments boom in the time of COVID-19


Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Vietnamese consumers' shopping and payment habits have changed dramatically. Instead of traditional shopping methods, now contactless payments are becoming more popular.

Results of a survey of Vietnamese consumers' payment attitudes released by Visa recently showed that the use of e-wallets, contactless payments via cards and smartphones, and payments using QR codes have all increased sharply during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Specifically, data from VisaNet network shows that the total transaction value of Vietnamese consumers on Visa credit and debit cards increased by 34% in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the first quarter of 2020. The ratio of contactless transactions to total direct transactions of Visa cards increased by 230% over the same period. The annual growth rate of total e-commerce transaction value in the first quarter of 2021 increased by 5.5 times compared to the fourth quarter of 2020.

The growth of cashless payments is growing significantly through the frequency of use of e-wallets, contactless payments and QR codes. According to Visa, contactless card payments are the most used in the food and catering category, with 67% of consumers increasing their use of this method in 2020. QR code payments have also skyrocketed during the pandemic, especially in everyday transactions such as bill payments (71%), shopping in retail (58%) and in supermarkets (57%).

As of the end of March 2021, electronic payments via the Internet, mobile phones, and QR codes have achieved remarkable results, attracting a large number of customers. Compared to the same period in the first three months of 2020, transactions via the Internet channel reached 156.2 million items with a value of VND 8.1 million billion (an increase of 55.9% in volume and 28.4% in value respectively); transactions via mobile phone channel reached 395.05 million items with a value of more than VND 4.6 million billion (an increase of  78% in volume and 103% in value respectively); transactions via QR code channel reached 5.3 million items with a value of VND 4,479 billion (an increase of 83% in volume and 146% in value respectively).

These figures show that Vietnamese consumers have quickly adopted new payment methods without direct contact, namely touch-free payment. According to Visa, this trend is confirmed as mobile contactless payments gradually become popular, with the highest increase in transactions in the health and sports sectors (55%). In addition, up to 88% of people surveyed are aware of mobile contactless payments and 45% are currently using this method.

Visa survey results show that safety and convenience are factors driving the transition from cash to digital forms of payment, with 58% of those surveyed saying that the security of digital payment digital versus cash is the main reason for this change and more than half (56%) consider digital payments less of a hassle.

Before the pandemic, Vietnamese spent 3.1 hours online a day but during social distancing, this number skyrocketed to 4.2 hours a day at its peak. Statistics from Visa's survey also show this trend, with 85% of consumers using e-commerce apps on smartphones to shop for goods and services at least once a week, and 44% of consumers shop through social channels for the first time since the pandemic began.


Kylie Nguyen

© 2019 Vietnam Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development No. 2 Lang Ha street, Ba Dinh district, Hanoi, Vietnam
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