Digital payments, anytime, anywhereInstead of cash, mobile wallets, cards, and QR codes have become the go-to payment alternatives for many Vietnamese these days. In 2023, the value of digital payment transactions in Vietnam is expected to reach nearly 24 billion U.S. dollars, the fourth highest in Southeast Asia, surpassing that of Singapore and Malaysia. Digital payments, together with other sub-sectors of fintech, are believed to be the key to financial inclusion and are, therefore, well promoted by the Vietnamese government. While the acceptance and usage of payment methods like mobile wallets are more prevalent in bigger cities and with modern trade channels, other payment methods have been designed to work with even traditional retail outlets, as well as in smaller cities or rural areas. For instance, in 2021, the government approved a pilot program for mobile money services that allows telecommunication subscriptions to be used for making payments domestically. This was created to target rural, mountainous, and remote areas, as telecommunication services are already widely available across the country. Since the introduction of this program, the number of people using Mobile Money services in the country has grown each month, reaching almost two million as of July 2022.
Vietnam’s blooming digital payment landscapeDigital transformation in payments has been happening across the financial service sector in Vietnam, from state-owned banks and telecommunication companies to private, international fintech groups. In early August 2023, Apple Pay officially entered Vietnam, marking a significant milestone for Vietnam’s digital payment landscape. Well-known for its high-security reputation and wide adoption worldwide, Apple Pay is expected to pose a strong challenge to local e-wallet players. However, with its wide coverage and super app status, the Vietnamese unicorn MoMo remains the e-wallet leader, outpacing other e-wallet brands such as ZaloPay and ShopeePay as of the second quarter of 2023. The question of whether Apple Pay can outperform MoMo is still up in the air for the U.S. tech giant.
In 2019, the concept of Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) began to gain popularity in Vietnam. This financial solution, mostly favored by the younger generation, enables consumers to make purchases upfront and pay later. In 2022, the number of BNPL users in Vietnam reached nearly nine million, tripling the figure from 2020, ranking second in Southeast Asia only after Indonesia. With a dynamic and fast-growing economy, Vietnam is poised to be a fertile ground for both domestic fintech startups and international investors in the future.