Peer-to-peer lending: Next fintech wave in Vietnam
Peer-to-peer lending (P2P lending) is a modern fintech solution that allows direct connection between borrowers and investors without going through an intermediary.
Taking advantage of artificial intelligence and automation, the model possesses many advantages compared to traditional lending in terms of speed, operating costs, and interest rates.
Vietnam has a population of 96 million, 76 per cent of whom are of working age and 70 per cent of whom have a mobile phone, with average incomes growing fast and people preferring to use advanced technology.
Meanwhile, access financial-banking services remains modest compared to the region. According to the World Bank, only 40 per cent of adults in Vietnam have bank accounts compared to 80 per cent in China and 74 per cent in the Asia-Pacific region.
With these parameters, Vietnam is truly a potential gold mine for the P2P model, with increasing interest from businesses and venture capital funds both domestic and foreign.
In only the past few years, there have been about 40 businesses active in P2P lending in Vietnam. The latest name to enter the market is Interloan. Interloan’s Personal Loan Financing service was developed from the P2P Lending Project, which was honored at the Fintech Challenge Vietnam 2018, launched by the State Bank of Vietnam.
Mr. Tran Dai Duong, Executive Director of Interloan, said that it is purely a company providing services connecting investors with borrowers.
What makes Interloan different from the majority of existing P2P lending models is that the connections between enterprises and users are authenticated by the company. With this approach, only employees of enterprises that have joined the partnership can trade on Interloan, increasing transparency and reducing risks for investors in the market. Businesses that have used Interloan services for employees include McDonald’s Vietnam, the Mat Bao BPO JSC, the Vien Dong Insurance JSC, and the Viet Money JSC.
In order to implement P2P lending services, Interloan has cooperated with three commercial banks - Saigon Thuong Tin Commercial Joint Stock Bank (Sacombank), Nam A Commercial Joint Stock Bank (Nam A Bank), and Ban Viet Commercial Joint Stock Bank (Viet Capital Bank) - to act as units to manage accounts and perform transactions. All accounts and transactions of users will be made through the banking system.
The general goal of Interloan in expanding cooperation with banks and businesses is to improve the foundation of online high-tech P2P lending, supporting the systematization of advance salary payments for employees, minimizing pressure on working capital for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and providing workers with more financial access channels to serve urgent and short-term needs.
This P2P lending model helps contribute to financial universalization and pushes back against “black credit” in society, as per targets set by the government and the central bank.
Japanese textile and apparel makers sets solid foothold in Vietnam
A number of Japanese textile and apparel makers plan to expand operations in Vietnam due to labour costs and the impact of the US-China trade war.
Japanese textile maker Suminoe Textile Co., Ltd. will set up an electric carpet plant in Vietnam in order to take advantage of the low cost of labour, according to NNA Business News.
Once successful, it will be the company's second overseas base exporting to Japan.
The Osaka-based firm established a wholly-owned local subsidiary, Suminoe Textile Vietnam Co. Ltd., in Dong Van III Industrial Zone, 40 kilometres south of Hanoi, with the investment capital of $1.9 million.
The new company will rent a factory to produce electric heating appliances such as electric carpets and blankets, with its production capacity 30 per cent larger than that of the firm’s existing plant in China.
Electric heating appliances are one of Suminoe’s key products in functional goods business, produced overseas solely in Suzhou in the province of Jiangsu since 2003.
Suminoe, which made its first foray into overseas business in 1994 by establishing a Thai unit, now has 14 bases in seven countries, including the United States, India, and Indonesia.
Previously in mid-July, Japanese apparel maker Matsuoka Corp. released plans to build a new plant in Vietnam as part of a medium-term business strategy to lessen its reliance on China, according to NNA Business News.
Accordingly, Matsuoka will establish a wholly-owned subsidiary called Annam Matsuoka Garment Co. possibly in August to build and operate the new plant in the north-central province of Nghe An. The new plant is Matsuoka’s fourth one in Vietnam after one each in the northern provinces of Phu Tho and Bac Giang and the southern province of Binh Duong.
Like the three other plants, the new plant will make apparel on an original equipment manufacturer basis.
Matsuoka hopes to begin operations in Nghe An at an early date, however, details such as the plant’s launch date and production capacity have yet to be worked out.
Of the Hiroshima prefecture-based company’s overseas sales in the fiscal year through March this year, China accounted for about 60 per cent, Bangladesh 25 per cent, and Vietnam 10 per cent. The firm’s medium-term business plan calls for reducing its reliance on China to around 50 per cent by March 2021 by shifting its focus to Vietnam instead, at the same time avoiding rising production costs.
Matsuoka sees Vietnam as a key production base for casual apparel bound for Japan and China, adding the firm’s Bangladesh arm manufacturing innerwear and working wear.
H&M to open 7th store in Vietnam
International fast-fashion brand H&M will open its fourth store in Ho Chi Minh City and seventh nationwide on August 22.
Located at Aeon Mall Tan Phu Celadon in Tan Phu district, the new store covers an area of over 1,000 sq m on one floor.
Customers will find the latest H&M items, including outfits, shoes, and accessories for women, men and children at affordable prices.
“We are very excited to open the seventh H&M store and will continue to expand our business in Vietnam,” said Mr. Fredrik Famm, H&M’s Country Manager for Southeast Asia. “We hope that H&M will always be the top fashion destination for Vietnamese customers, while inspiring their style with various designs and accessories.”
The store will be open from 11am to 10pm on opening day, while regular hours are 9.30am to 10pm daily.
To mark the opening, the store will feature a fall collection for women in conjunction with Richard Allan, a designer brand of British silk towels since the 1960s. The Richard Allan x H&M Collection will introduce to customers contemporary designs with textured prints while still inheriting the classic style inherent from the leading silk towels designer.
H&M will hand out gifts on the opening day, including limited edition handbags and notebooks and shopping cards to welcome the first 200 visitors. Three lucky customers will also have the opportunity to receive special gifts.
After arriving in the country in 2017, H&M Vietnam has opened stores in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, achieving record-breaking sales with each successive opening. The first is located in Vincom Center Dong Khoi in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, with the 2,000 sq m flagship store spanning two floors.
International brand names have attracted the attention of Ho Chi Minh City fashion lovers, clearing the way for more to arrive in the country. More than 50 well-known brand names are now in the city, such as Giordano, Mango, Zara, Topshop, Gap, and Old Navy. Others, including Pull&Bear, Uniqlo, and F21, will arrive shortly.
CMS becomes sole distributor of Samsung Flip in Vietnam
CMC Manufacturing and Service Co. (CMS), a member of the CMC Technology Group, signed a cooperation deal with Samsung Vina Electronics (SAVINA), under the Samsung Group, on August 13, in which CMS became the sole distributor of Samsung Flip interactive whiteboard products in Vietnam.
Samsung Flip is an upgrade of traditional whiteboards and electronic boards, incorporating powerful support features for teaching and learning at schools as well as for sharing ideas and holding meetings at offices.
“With CMS’s wide distribution network in Vietnam’s 63 cities and provinces, along with the preeminent features of Flip products and incorporating Samsung’s after-sales and care-oriented services, Samsung aims to turn Flip into a popular interactive whiteboard at Vietnamese schools and enterprises,” Mr. KC Ryu, Business Director at CE Display and representing Samsung Vina, said at the signing ceremony.
Samsung Flip is part of its “Future Workplace” solutions package for businesses. With a large size, 4K UHD resolution, manual touch support, and Passive pen, the Samsung Flip electronic interactive working panel allows easy sharing, annotation, movement, and search, as well as the ability to create multiple content at the same time and to talk continuously. It won the AV News Innovation Award and the Leading New Technology Award of 2019 in the Unified Collaborations & Communications category.
Mr. KC Ryu affirmed that CMS is the most suitable partner to accompany Samsung to introduce Flip to the market. “CMS has extensive experience in IT product distribution, staff who understand the market, solid marketing capacity, quick capturing of modern technology products, and a wide distribution network,” he said. “I believe CMS’s efforts will help Samsung quickly and effectively introduce the Flip line to customers, so that products are increasingly used in Vietnam.”
“One of CMS’s strategic objectives is to provide the worlds’ advanced technology products to organizations, businesses, and schools in Vietnam, to increase benefits and competitive advantages for customers,” said Mr. Nguyen Phuoc Hai, General Director of CMS. “Flip is a product Samsung has thoroughly researched technology and features to suit the demand for use at schools, educational institutions, and businesses.”
The cooperation with CMC helps Samsung expand its business network, bringing products closer to Vietnamese consumers, thereby listening to their opinions on products, understanding insights, and figuring out solutions that meet market demand.
ABA sells $6mn in bonds to Vietnam Holding
The ABA Trading Solutions JSC (ABA Cooltrans) has officially announced the completion of an issuance of VND139.8 billion ($6 million) in convertible bonds to Vietnam Holding Limited, to expand its cold chain logistics solutions in Vietnam.
“ABA’s growth has been directly linked to increasing demand for fresh and safe food among Vietnamese consumers,” said Mr. Luong Quang Thi, Founder and CEO of ABA. “Controlling temperatures throughout the entire supply chain requires much greater investment for cold supply chains than investing in conventional supply chains. Therefore, with the investment from Vietnam Holding, we can reinforce our facilities, trucking, and warehousing into a complete supply chain, and in particular develop our information technology system, training, and resource management, as well as build a corporate culture focused on our clients and the quality of their products.”
Established in 2008, ABA Cooltrans is currently the leading provider of services and solutions in Vietnam’s integrated cold supply chain.
It owns nearly 300 refrigerated trucks and 40,000 cold storage locations in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City and aims to be the first and only standard cold chain logistics provider in Vietnam offering modern retailers and suppliers a one-stop shop for temperature-controlled logistics.
ABA’s clients include large modern retailers such as VinMart, Bach Hoa Xanh, and Big C, as well as suppliers providing meat, dairy products, and fresh produce, such as Masan Nutri-Science, Bel Vietnam, and Unilever.
It has appointed Mr. William O’Brien to its Board of Directors as an independent industry expert. Mr. O’Brien has over 20 years of experience in the cold chain logistics business and was formerly President of HAVI Logistics in Asia. His experience will enable ABA to apply and deploy best practices in the industry into its daily operations. “This is an important milestone for our team in realizing ABA Cooltrans’ vision to 2023,” Mr. Thi added.
“Vietnam Holding, managed by Dynam Capital, has invested significantly in the consumer retail and logistics space in Vietnam,” said Mr. Vu Quang Thinh, CEO of Dynam Vietnam. “As the modern trade portion of the market grows in Vietnam, ensuring food safety and quality across the ‘farm to fork’ chain becomes increasingly important. We think ABA has strong potential to be the leading player in cold chain logistics in the country and are delighted to partner with Mr. Thi.”
Dynam Capital is the investment manager of Vietnam Holding Limited (VNH), an investment fund listed on the London Stock Exchange.
VNH has been investing in Vietnam since 2006 and has significant investments in FPT, Phu Nhuan Jewelry, Saigon Cargo Services, Mobile World Group, and MB Bank. It has a long history of outperformance and its year-to-date estimated Net Asset Value (NAV) per share as at August 9 has increased 5.62 per cent since the beginning of January, outperforming the Vietnam All-Share Index (VNAS), which rose 4.45 per cent in the same period.
Equity purchases lead FDI inflows in HCM City
Equity purchases overwhelmed the influx of foreign direct investment into Ho Chi Minh City during the first half of 2019 whilst the southern metropolis saw a moderate number of new FDI firms established during the reviewed period.
Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) attracted some US$3.21 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI) in the first half of 2019, an annual rise of 20 per cent. Of note, two thirds of the FDI capital were channeled into the equity purchases of domestic enterprises.
Over 2,300 foreign investors carried out the purchase of equity capital and shares of domestic firms, worth a total of US$2.37 billion. Nearly 42 per cent of the figure went into real estate. In particular, Samty Asia Investment reached a US$22.5 million deal with real estate developer Phat Dat to develop some projects in HCMC, while Frasers Property bought a 75 per cent stake in Tran Thai Lands.
Meanwhile, Mondelez acquired the confectionery business section of KIDO Group, whilst the Dragon Capital investment fund conducted some equity purchases of businesses operating in the realms of real estate, pharmaceuticals, and others.
According to Dominic Scriven Obe, head of the Dragon Capital investment fund, these increasing equity purchases were triggered by foreign investors wanting to minimize risks for their investments.
In fact, equity purchases could help to ease risks for both buyers and sellers. Domestic companies enjoy advantages in their knowledge of the domestic market, state management procedures, and those related to land. However, they suffer from a weak financial capacity, low levels of technology, and struggle to do business internationally. In contrast, these are the strengths of FDI firms, Obe noted.
Economic experts claimed that FDI firms choose equity purchases as a means of saving time to implement procedures in relation to establishing businesses and building production bases. In general, they prefer to pour capital and make investments in technology in order to swiftly improve the production capacity of local partners.
Indeed, foreign investors are allowed to hold a stake scaling up to 51 per cent in domestic businesses. This obviously facilitates foreign investors to pump additional capital into the Vietnamese market.
Dinh The Hien, an economic expert, asserted that equity purchases help to speed up the investment of foreign firms whilst keeping pace with global trends.
Initially, foreign investors pour capital into founding or boosting the operation of local partners, before expanding their investment in equipment and machines in order to increase their business scale, Hien said.
This could pose a big problem if FDI investors pump capital into Vietnamese firms for the purpose of acquiring them rather than helping them improve the efficiency of their production and business.
As a trend, Ho Chi Minh City has been more selective about FDI inflows, placing restrictions on labor-intensive projects and those at a high risk of environmental pollution. Focus is put on high added-value sectors such as processing, manufacturing, and high-tech ones in pursuit of sustainable development.
Tran Quang Thang, head of the HCMC Institute of Economics and Management, said that the city’s investment attraction is aimed at projects that could help to intensify internal forces and give a boost to sustainable development of the city and the country at large. Also, importance would be attached to both quantity and quality of FDI projects.
Thai group proposes 1,700-hectare city near Ha Long
Thailand’s Amata has proposed a city 30 km away from Ha Long downtown that could host 200,000 residents by 2035.
Located in Quang Ninh Province’s Quang Yen Commune, Amata City Ha Long would cover 1,720 hectares, of which 30 percent will be used for residential buildings, 18 percent for planting trees and the rest for businesses, services and transportation infrastructure, the group’s chairman Vikrom Kromadit said in a recent meeting with provincial authorities.
Quang Ninh Chairman Nguyen Van Thang said the project, about 47 km from UNESCO heritage site Ha Long Bay, was approved in principle and Amata should research it in greater detail.
Amata is investing $155 million in an industrial park (IP) in the province. Covering 714 hectares, the Song Khoai IP is located in Quang Yen Commune. Work on the IP began at the end of last year and is set to finish in the third quarter of next year.
In Vietnam, the group owns the 700-hectare Amata City Bien Hoa Industrial Park, which has been active since 1994 in the southern province of Dong Nai. It has also received permission to construct the 1,265-hectare Amata City Long Thanh in the province, which comprises an IP and a city.
Quang Ninh has received increasing increasing infrastructure investment in recent years.
It is home to Vietnam’s first private airport Van Don International Airport and is linked with Hanoi and the port city of Hai Phong via an expressway.
In May, Quang Ninh became the most competitive province in Vietnam for the second time in a row in the Provincial Competitive Index (PCI) 2018 survey released by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
Stagnant supporting industries hamper apparel export
Underdeveloped textile and dying supporting industries could pose a threat to the future export of the apparel sector amid the freshly-signed EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement, insiders have warned.
The EU is now the second largest importer of Vietnamese apparel products. The EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), signed by both sides in late June, is thought to further boost the garment and textile sector’s exports to the trading bloc.
Last year, Vietnam earned US$5.6 billion from its garment and textile exports to Europe. Despite this large income, it only accounted for just over 2 per cent of the bloc’s total apparel imports. Therefore, there exists a huge potential for Vietnamese apparel products to make inroads into the European market.
A great number of tariff lines will be slashed to 0 per cent under a seven-year tariff elimination roadmap set by the EVFTA. This would open up an array of export opportunities for the domestic apparel sector.
Luong Hoang Thai, head of the Multilateral Trade Policy Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, said the EU is the world’s largest market in terms of garment and textile trade.
The EVFTA will allow Vietnamese apparel products to penetrate more deeply into EU markets, with 77 per cent of tariff lines on garment and textile imports into the bloc to be reduced to 0 per cent right after the trade pact comes into force, while most of the remaining tariffs will also drop to 0 per cent over time.
However, the apparel sector could face a number of difficulties in optimizing the benefits arising from the EVFTA, as the industry has yet to satisfy requirements on product origin as local firms regularly import clothes and other materials from the markets which are not signatories of any FTA with the EU.
Vu Duc Giang, Chairman of the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association, admitted that the sector has made only some simple outsourcing parts of the entire process. Hence, high standards on product origin pose a serious challenge for Vietnamese firms.
The most challenging issue emerges from the shortages of material supply, especially those in relation to the dying process, Giang claimed, noting that in order to make full use of EVFTA benefits, ministries, sectors, and localities must sketch out detailed plans to develop enterprises in a way they can handle the shortages.
The EVFTA requires that local exporters meet requirements regarding the origin of cloth. Given this, the domestic sector would fail to earn any benefits from the trade deal if it lacks made-in-Vietnam clothes to create products for export. Indeed, up to 90 per cent of the sector’s inputs have been imported from non-EVFTA countries, meaning these sources are not subjective to the cumulative rule of origin as prescribed in the EVFTA.
Nguyen Thi Thu Trang, head of the WTO and Integration Center under the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that high origin standards as required by the EVFTA and other trade pacts would serve as a catalyst to attract further investment inflows into textile and dying industries, therefore helping ease the shortages of inputs.
She added that more attention should be paid to improving the quality of design and other processes in a bid to increase the added value of Vietnamese apparel products.
The domestic garment and textile sector looks to reap US$40 billion from exports throughout 2019. Of which, 42 per cent of the total exports are expected to come from the US, followed by EU markets with 21.5 per cent.
The establishment of stable supply chains is needed to untangle the existing bottlenecks. Market stability is another factor that will help to attract additional investment inflows and enable local firms to penetrate more deeply into the supply chain.
Coffee giant Trung Nguyen opens new franchise
Trung Nguyen has opened E-Coffee, a small scale coffee shop franchise targeted at takeaway customers.
Each takeaway coffee shop has an area of 4 – 40 square meters, and costs between VND65 million ($2,828) and VND175 million ($7,615) to set up, said Vo Thi Ha Giang, Director of Communications at Trung Nguyen Group.
E-Coffee stores will also sell all other Trung Nguyen products, including coffee dispensers and other equipment, targeting lower and middle income consumer segments, Giang said.
These coffee shops are different from the existing Trung Nguyen Legend chain, which requires an average investment of VND1 billion ($43,513) in investment for each shop, and tries to create a lot of space for customers to enjoy coffee, she added.
"E-Coffee is optimized for all locations including office buildings, metro stations, markets and convenience stores. In the beginning, Trung Nguyen will not charge brand and management fees from franchisees," said Giang.
"The company will provide training programs, advice, business guidance and operational support for partners." In addition to coffee and confectionery, franchisees are allowed to sell other beverages.
The new retail coffee franchise model already would have 100 stores nationwide. By the end of this year, Trung Nguyen aims to triple this number, and expand to 3,000 stores in 2020.
According to the Trung Nguyen Group’s 2018 financial report, the company earned revenues of VND4.8 trillion ($208.86 million) in revenue, an increase of nearly 8 percent compared to 2017, but pre-tax profits fell to VND347 billion ($15.1 million), a 50 percent decrease from the previous year.
The report said the group has faced falling profits in the last three years due to rapidly rising operating expenses and internal conflicts between chairman Dang Le Nguyen Vu and ex-wife Le Hoang Diep Thao, who jointly managed the corporation.
Vu and Thao got divorced early this year. After months of litigation, the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Court ordered in March that the stocks and cash assets of TNG shared by Vu and Thao be split 60:40 in Vu’s favor in their divorce settlement. Thao has appealed.
Rising land leasing prices burden Phuc Long
High land leasing prices make it difficult for coffee and bubble tea store chains like Phuc Long Coffee & Tea, which most recently closed two stores located at golden spots despite the huge revenues they generated.
Phuc Long Coffee & Tea on August 5 officially announced to halt the operation of two stores, one at the shopping mall SC VivoCity (District 7, Ho Chi Minh City) and the roundabout at 6 Phu Dong (District 1, Ho Chi Minh City) – two top spots in the eyes of many brands.
SC Vivo City is always crowded with customers, especially during the evenings and weekends. The roundabout at 6 Phu Dong is the intersection of the streets Cach Mang Thang 8, Ly Tu Trong, Nguyen Trai, Le Thi Rieng, and Le Lai, which are home to many coffee and tea brands like Starbucks, The Coffee House, and The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. Even Starbucks selected the spot six years ago to enter Vietnam.
Phuc Long leaving these coveted positions has raised concerns about the increasing land leasing prices in dynamic cities like Ho Chi Minh City and the capital, Hanoi.
According to Zing.vn, Phuc Long in 2014 paid $14,000 a month in leasing fee for its store on the roundabout at 6 Phu Dong. However, as soon as the leasing contract expired in June 2019, the position was replaced by a new store of the soy-bean milk brand Soya Garden after the leasing price nearly doubled to $25,000.
According to global real estate services provider Savills, land rent at bubble tea streets like Nguyen Hue, Ngo Duc Ke, or Phan Xich Long in Ho Chi Minh City has grown by 50-100 per cent in just a few years.
Some real estate agencies said that a company offering such a high price is nothing extraordinary as hundreds of brands are fiercely competing to gain space.
Regarding the issue, the representative of Phuc Long said, “We keep expanding the number of our stores across the country. In addition, we are always very careful to select the most favourable positions to best serve our customers.”
Despite not revealing the reason behind the closure, it could be seen that finding a favourable spot to open stores has been a point of particular difficulty for many coffee and tea brands, especially as the land leasing price keeps skyrocketing.
In 2018, Phuc Long earned VND473 billion ($20.57 million) in revenue, up 39 per cent on-year. Phuc Long currently rankes at the fourth coffee chain on the market in terms of revenue. Leading the market is Highlands with VND1.628 trillion ($70.78 million), followed by The Coffee House and Starbucks with about VND678.3 billion ($29.49 million) and VND603 billion ($26.22 million), respectively.
Notably, Phuc Long’s revenue growth rate is 17 per cent, but its gross margin remains at 35 per cent, lower than other brands. Accordingly, Phuc Long’s after-tax profit in 2018 was VND4.5 billion ($195,650) while Highlands and Starbucks gained VND129.2 billion ($5.62 million) and VND31.9 billion ($1.39 million), respectively.
The exorbitant land lease rates have been putting pressure on the coffee and tea brand, eating into its profit. However, Phuc Long stayed on course with its expansion plan by opening three stores in Hanoi in 2019’s first half. However, mounting rent is a definite risk factor in this expansion, especially as good spots for business are growing scarce in dynamic cities with high population.
TDH Ecoland co-operates with LH Group to develop industrial parks
TDH Ecoland, a member company of Ecopark Group, has entered into a co-operation with Korea Land and Housing Corporation to develop a clean industrial park, which is a part of the long-term Ly Thuong Kiet service and urban industrial zone project.
Accordingly, the two parties will conduct the feasibility study for the project and then develop a modern industrial park (IP) covering an area of 139.7 hectares, which will be a pioneer ecological IP project in Hung Yen. Simultaneously this IP will form part of the 3,000ha Ly Thuong Kiet service and urban industrial zone (IZ) in Yen My district, which is one of the priority projects of TDH Ecoland and Korea Land and Housing Corporation (LH) in 2019-2020.
Clean IPs are environmentally friendly, developed with the use of smart as well as ecological solutions, including having a general operating centre to monitor and control most processes remotely, using solar power for manufacturing and business, as well as installing a modern wastewater treatment system, along with other infrastructure.
After evaluating the construction process of the clean IP, the two parties will continue to study the development of No.1 IP, which is also part of Ly Thuong Kiet service and urban IZ project.
In the framework of this signing ceremony, TDH Ecoland and LH also signed memorandum of agreement (MoA) to study and invest in social housing projects.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, a representative of TDH Ecoland said, “Thanks to this co-operation, Ecopark affirms its pioneer position with diversified and high-level investments. Besides, the group not only accompanies local people and authorities but also began to co-operate with international partners and multinational corporations to build models from housing and urban areas to IZs, replicating and expanding the Ecopark model throughout the country.”
The co-operation agreements between TDH Ecoland and LH Group, one of the largest enterprises in Korea in the construction and development of housing, urban renovation, construction of complex areas, as well as industrial and smart city development, is a step forward in concretising the co-operation in the fields of housing, real estate, and industry signed by the governments of South Korea and Vietnam.
EY Vietnam: Organisations need to be on high alert for cyber threats
At a recent workshop titled “Cybersecurity and the importance of Threat Intelligence Sharing Platform” held in Hanoi, experts from EY Consulting Vietnam and Anomali alerted about new vulnerabilities brought by digital transformation proceeds and new technologies which require the business cybersecurity cognition to be at a quick pace – otherwise, it will leave loopholes for hackers to cause severe damage to the business and its customers.
Speaking at the workshop, Tran Dinh Cuong, general director of EY Vietnam, said, “Cybersecurity has to be embedded in organisations' development strategy. It is vital to have systematic co-operation, information sharing, and technical assistance not only within an internal financial institution but also in the financial and banking sector and related organisations with cybersecurity experts.”
According to Cuong, the aim should not only be to protect the enterprise with good cybersecurity hygiene and basic lines of defense, but also to optimise the response with more advanced tools and strategies.
Echoing this point, Geoff Noble, Anomali’s senior vice president, said, “One organisation’s detection can be prevention. Therefore, the highest way is to build on trust, which can manage the trust about what you shared. You can be part of a community like EY Vietnam to bring intelligence into the platform.”
At the workshop, experts agreed that early detection and warnings of cyberattacks play a major role in helping organisations effectively react to threats before they damage the businesses and their stakeholders.
Emphasising on the critical role of the advanced notification and warnings of cyber assaults, Robert Trong Tran, leader of Cybersecurity Services at EY Consulting Vietnam believed that the platform for malware information sharing and cyberattack signals analysis among enterprises will be a prerequisite to effectively cope with intentional and complicated hacking assaults.
Without timely defense, a cyberspace intrusion will wreak havoc and cause immense losses to a business, not to mention the potential injury of prestige and credibility in future transactions, noted experts at the workshop. Organisations should always be on high alert and be ready to fight with cybersecurity intrusions to minimise possible financial and reputational risks.
“Any organisation can be a potential target for hackers. We need to be on high surveillance and be fully prepared for cyber threats,” concluded Robert.
F88 issues corporate bonds
F88 has successfully issued corporate bonds totaling VND100 billion ($4.3 million) after just two weeks of being offered.
The non-convertible bonds have a term of two years, a fixed interest rate, and are paid in Vietnam dong (VND). Buyers were primarily reputable large domestic institutions and some individual investors.
The bond issuance was advised on by the Bao Viet Securities JSC (BVSC), a leader in issuing and managing risk in Vietnam’s financial market.
Mr. Phung Anh Tuan, Chairman and CEO of F88, said mobilizing capital in the domestic bond market is part of the company’s long-term capital strategy, with it applying successful lessons from leading mortgage companies in the US (First Cash), Thailand (Srisawad), and Singapore (Maxicash). “This successful bond issuance helps F88 supplement necessary capital to meet growth in mortgage lending,” he added. “The result confirms the interest of investors in the company’s efficiency and reputation.”
As at June 30, F88 was the leading company in the market, possessing an impressive financial services chain. Its transaction offices around the country have risen to 84 - nearly double that in 2018 - of which 41 are in Hanoi, 38 in Ho Chi Minh City, and five in northern provinces.
F88 is expected to reach its target of 100 transaction offices this year and 300 by 2021. It will continue to expand channels for domestic and foreign capital mobilization, including the corporate bond issuance.
Unlike other business models in the field of finance, F88 is a pioneer in asset mortgage lending, ensuring fast, friendly, safe and confidential products, including lending with motor cars, motorbikes, phones, and computers pledged as collateral.
F88 is also actively investing in its technology network to conduct asset valuations and risk management in the best possible manner. It currently uses an ERP system and Business Intelligence (BI) to have information transmitted immediately and accurately and focuses on key measurement indicators to support and make business decisions.
Digital payment firm partners with local authority to deliver smart mobility.
Visa, the world’s leader in digital payments, and the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Transportation (DoT), have signed an MoU to drive the development and adoption of digital payments to achieve smart mobility in the city.
The MoU is in support of the city’s plans to become a smart city in 2017-2020 and vision to 2025. Visa and the DoT intend to collaborate to increase the acceptance of digital payments and implement a secure open-loop payment system across all transportation networks.
“Visa is committed to working with its clients, merchants, the government and partners like the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Transportation to drive the adoption of digital payments in Vietnam,” said Ms. Dang Tuyet Dung, Visa Country Manager for Vietnam and Laos.
“We are looking forward to bringing our expertise on digital payments and urban mobility to this partnership in the hope that we can accelerate the city’s smart mobility plans, providing people with secure, faster, and more convenient ways to pay for their transport and everyday purchases.”
The MoU positions Visa as the DoT’s preferred partner in developing digital payment solutions for the city and outlines a series of initiatives they will be focusing on.
These initiatives include leveraging Visa’s feasibility study on the Transit Payment System in Ho Chi Minh City to help educate relevant stakeholders and guide the future direction and policy making of the transit and transit-adjacent payments infrastructure and ecosystem.
Visa also intends to work with the city’s DoT to explore opportunities to upgrade the legacy closed-loop payment system by adopting an open-loop EMV contactless technology for all transportation networks.
Visa also intends to share best practices with the DoT through knowledge-sharing workshops and a study tour to meet with transport authorities and share experience in delivering smart mobility solutions.
It has a successful history of supporting clients and public transport operators deliver contactless payments acceptance in the mass transit industry, with an involvement in more than 100 projects with public transport operators or authorities across the globe.
Shinhan Card: South Korean firms showing great interest in Vietnam
South Korean firms have been expressing great interest in Vietnam over recent years. How would you comment on the investment wave from South Korea into the country?
The relationship between Vietnam and South Korea is very special. Since the beginning of diplomatic relations, in 1992, there has not only been flourishing economic exchanges but also profound cultural ties, encouraging the two to come together.
South Korea is Vietnam’s fourth-largest export partner and second-largest import partner. Vietnam is South Korea’s largest trading partner in ASEAN. Since 1992, when diplomatic relations started, trade has increased 120 times, exceeding $64 billion in 2017. The South Korean Government declared its “New Southern Policy” in the same year, a blueprint for expanding trade with Vietnam to $100 billion by 2020. Economic ties between the two counties are now at their strongest.
From an economic perspective, many economists have said that ASEAN countries will carry the global economy and we believe that Vietnam will play a pivotal role in this. Its economic growth has stood at around 7 per cent annually over the last decade and its large and young population creates a strong domestic market. Many South Korean companies view Vietnam’s economy as being strong and possessing substantial potential. I think this is why many have invested and will invest further in the country.
Why did you decide to fully acquire Prudential Finance recently? What are your expectations in Vietnam’s booming consumer finance market?
We still have a lot more to study in the market, but we have been operating a credit card business since 2011 through Shinhan Bank Vietnam. As experience in the credit card business was accumulated, we also gained the confidence to run a consumer finance business. Since this market has been growing steadily and has huge potential, Shinhan Card has been trying seek opportunities to enter into Vietnam’s finance market and finally succeeded through the acquisition of Prudential Finance.
Shinhan Card, a leading multi-finance company in South Korea with a long-term perspective, plans to expand its product portfolio from existing credit loans to financial products including consumer goods loans, auto instalment plans, and the credit card business, incorporating the business know-how of the Seoul head office.
According to KOTRA, Vietnam is entering a fourth investment wave, with a raft of South Korean investors expecting to set up or expand their investment in the local information technology (IT) and financial sectors and Shinhan seems to be a pioneer. What opportunities do you see in Vietnam?
Shinhan is actively making its transition to Industry 4.0 through the adoption of big data, fintech, and AI. Shinhan Card is a leading multi-finance company with advanced financial business capabilities, including highly-effective marketing techniques and pre-emptive risk management systems.
Shinhan Card offers various digital and AI-based hyper-personalized marketing through the number 1 life-financial platform “Shinhan Pay FAN”. We plan to bring a new wave to the Vietnamese market by introducing digital technology from the Seoul head office.
We have major interest in Vietnam’s IT market as well, so are open to partnership opportunities with local platforms and payment gateway (PG) providers.
What criteria are the most important in Shinhan Card’s investment decisions? How is the investment rate of return in Vietnam compared to other countries in the region?
Vietnam has a population of over 96 million, which is close to 150 per cent of South Korea’s population. The economic population, aged between 20 and 49, is about half of the total population and the middle-class is expected to increase to 40 per cent by 2020. The highly positive outlook for and stability of Vietnam’s consumer finance market and the overall economy are the most important criteria in our investment decisions.
With ongoing annual economic growth of nearly 7 per cent, the consumer finance market has also grown around 30 to 40 per cent every year. We expect that the rapid expansion of Vietnam’s consumer finance market will help us, compared to other countries, achieve a relatively larger return on investment.
No Shinhan Financial Group subsidiaries in Vietnam, which started with Shinhan Bank Vietnam in 1993, have paid dividends out of Vietnam but have continued to reinvest in the domestic financial market. This shows Shinhan’s dedication and commitment to the Vietnam market and we plan to continue to do likewise in the future.
What challenges has Shinhan Card had to address while investing in Vietnam? How have these been overcome?
Although Shinhan initially planned to complete the acquisition of Prudential Finance within a year of signing a Sales Purchase Agreement, additional studies of the consumer finance market and a profound analysis of the approval application nonetheless had to be conducted. Moreover, we faced a few difficulties in meeting requirements, such as interpreting regulations and understanding local business practices during the acquisition process.
Despite the delays, the full support of the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) and other financial supervisory services helped us overcome the various complications. Shinhan Financial Group would like to take this opportunity to express our gratitude to the SBV and the Ministry of Planning and Investment for the successful acquisition of Prudential Finance and the launch of the new Shinhan Vietnam Finance Company.