Vietnam: Charting the Path Forward with a National Financial Inclusion Strategy
19 July 2018
Earlier this year, the Deputy Governor of the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) announced that the government would draft a national financial inclusion strategy to increase the portion of the population with access to finance, which stands at just under 30 percent of adults.
Building an effective strategy to ensure Vietnam’s entire population can benefit from financial tools requires data that can inform policies, support business intelligence, and contribute to healthy market development. With generous support from MetLife Foundation and as part of MIX’s Lab project, the Interactive Dashboard for Vietnam uses geospatial data analytics to support the development of an inclusive financial services sector. Coupling this data together with other sources – including Global and the International Telecommunications Union – enables a more accurate view of the opportunity to expand financial access.
In its announcement, the SBV noted gaps in access with a particular focus on rural areas. An initial analysis using the Interactive Dashboard for Vietnam supports this finding, as the data demonstrated significant variations in the geographic presence of different financial service provider types. For example, regions with high population densities have a greater number of mobile money access points (and also more access points in general). Although there are 16,449 mobile money access points in Vietnam, nearly 20 percent are concentrated in Ho Chi Minh city and Ha . Similarly, approximately 30 percent of the 30,000 access points provided by banks are concentrated in the same two cities. Alternately, households living in low-density regions in Vietnam tend to depend primarily on Post Office branches.
If Vietnam is to make progress against its financial inclusion goals, it is necessary to introduce the correct incentives for financial service providers to expand to the rural and remote regions of the country. The country’s nearly 13,000 Post Offices offer important services to these areas with low population densities but providing access to mobile money services could provide households with greater convenience. Yet, there are still barriers to overcome: While there are more than 125 mobile cellular subscriptions per 100 people, the percentage of Vietnamese adults with mobile money accounts is less than 4 percent according to Global .
Alternatively, Vietnam could look to a policy initiative introduced by Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas to encourage financial service providers to build a presence in underserved municipalities. By using geospatial data, the central bank of the Philippines was able to identify municipalities with no formal access points and then develop incentives for banks to open microbranches in those areas. The SBV could consider piloting a similar policy to continue making headway in its commitment to full financial inclusion. Additionally, Vietnam could examine efforts by the Vietnam Bank of Social Policies, which has a branch in every district, and determine how to build from its impressive reach into every corner of the country.
Whichever approach Vietnam decides to take, this type of geospatial data and analysis can help inform the country’s national financial inclusion strategy and, when the time comes, to measure its effectiveness.
Click here to explore the Interactive Dashboard for Vietnam.