Viet Nam to stop issuing magnetic strip cards from March

Vietnamese banks, chip cards, State Bank of Viet Nam, Vietnamese banks, chip cards, State Bank of Viet Nam, Banking,
Viet Nam has around 93.78 million bank cards in circulation, in which the majority are magnetic strip cards. — Photo VTCNews

Vietnamese banks will only be allowed to issue chip cards from March 31, 2021, according to a State Bank of Viet Nam (SBV) draft circular.

Currently, local banks issue both chip and magnetic strip cards.

The draft regulation aims to help meet the country’s approved roadmap of replacing all current magnetic strip cards with chip cards by December 31, 2021. The chip cards are compatible with EMV standards as well as the standards of international card organisations such as Visa, MasterCard, JCB and UnionPay.

International card-issuing organisations have asked Vietnamese banks to switch to chip cards that meet EMV standards to increase safety amidst a growing number of information thefts. Security experts have also warned Viet Nam’s delayed transition to chip technology could put the country at risk of becoming a haven for card criminals from around the world as it is among the dwindling number of countries where magnetic swipe cards are still prevalent.

As of the end of the third quarter, Viet Nam had about 93.78 million bank cards in circulation, with the majority magnetic strip cards with weak security features and easily hacked.

Commercial banks are in the process of switching over to the new cards because of their stronger security features. However, some banks say the switch faces multiple barriers. They will have to upgrade their technology and replace ATMs and POS terminals with newer ones compatible with chip cards.

According to banks, issuing a chip card can cost some US$1.50-2.50, meaning they will have to spend between $105 million and $175 million for the transition, in addition to the cost of upgrading ATMs and core banking systems to adapt to the change.

Besides ensuring greater payment security, the replacement is also among the central bank’s plans to promote non-cash payment methods. Under the Government’s strategy, by the end of 2025, at least 80 per cent of adults in Viet Nam are hoped to have bank accounts and the number of non-cash transactions will expand by 20-25 per cent annually. — VNS

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