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|80 per cent of ATM transactions were cash withdrawals. - VNS Photo Nguyen Manh Ha|
Nguyen Thi Ngoc, an office worker in HCM City's District 3, said her local ATM had run out of money, so she had to use an ATM in District 10.She said that ATMs often ran out of money over the weekend when banks were closed, leading to questions about whether banks should be punished for the problem.
Nguyen Dinh Quy, director of Eximbank's Centre for ATM Cards, said that demand for cash had increased after workers received their salaries and bonuses ahead of the Tet holiday.
He said that his bank planned to double the amount of cash available at each ATM from VND900 million ($42,850) to VND1.8 billion ($85,700).
Dang Cong Hoan, director of Techcombank's Centre for Cards and Individual Finance Services, said the bank and its branches would arrange for staff to be available during Tet to help clients with their problems.
In recent years, the Government and the State Bank of Viet Nam have encouraged people to use cards for payments. Commercial banks have also issued promotions and preferential policies for clients who use cards for purchases and services.
According to the Department of Payment under the State Bank of Viet Nam, during the fourth quarter of last year, ATM transactions reached VND311 trillion ($14.8 billion) and POS transactions hit VND41.3 trillion ($1.96 billion), an increase of 6.2 and 17.9 per cent over the previous quarter. However, 80 per cent of ATM transactions were cash withdrawals.
There are now nearly 80 million bank accounts and 16,000 ATMs in the country, but ATMs will be overloaded if just 10 per cent of users withdraw cash at the same time.
Deputy Governor of the State Bank of Viet Nam Dao Minh Tu said that commercial banks would be fined VND10-15 million ($476-714) if their ATMs did not have sufficient funds over the New Year.
However, customers should remain patient as each ATM could only hold a fixed amount of cash, he said.