BUSINESS NEWS 3/6

Tech expanding reach of insurance

BUSINESS NEWS 3/6

With just a few simple clicks or swipes on a mobile app, travelers can now take out flight delay or cancellation insurance just a few hours before departure. The latest product in Vietnam’s non-life insurance market in general and among travel insurance products in particular, flight delay or cancellation insurance products are expected to follow the rapid growth of commercial airlines in the country. This has triggered competition between digital insurers, especially insurance startups, who are racing to use technologies to change the face of the local non-life insurance industry.

OPES Insurance, a non-life insurance joint stock company with capital contributed by the Vietnam Prosperity Joint Stock Commercial Bank (VPBank) and other shareholders, officially introduced itself to the local insurance market with a launch ceremony in Hanoi in mid-March. At the same time, it announced its first digital insurance products, including the new flight delay coverage. These products are integrated with technology so that OPES and other non-life insurers can reach clients directly without involving intermediaries such as insurance agents.

The flight delay insurance is expected to attract the most customers. Up to three hours before departure, customers who have already installed the OPES app will be able to purchase in-app coverage for about $1.70. If the flight is at least 31 minutes late, the insurer will reimburse them up to $6.45. In cases where the flight is delayed for four hours, the payout is up to $64.50. Aiming to become a digital insurer, OPES is embracing its ambition of exploring the potential in Vietnam’s insurance market, with a desire to apply digital technology in the insurance field.

OPES is not the first insurance company to penetrate into this market segment. In December last year, another Hanoi-based insurer, INSO, also introduced flight delay or cancellation insurance, compensating customers with $69 when flights are delayed six hours. “At the moment, we are distributing three types of non-life insurance products, including motor vehicle (car), flight delay or cancellation, and love insurance,” said Ms. Nguyen Vu Thuy Van, CEO of INSO. “Acceptance among customers of our products has been positive and encouraging, because it’s simple to purchase a policy and receive a payout within 30 minutes.”

She also noted that it would normally be time-consuming and troublesome for passengers to receive compensation from airlines when flights are delayed or cancelled, so most don’t seek such remedies. “Buying delay insurance, on the other hand, is easier and quicker,” she explained. “With hundreds of millions of passengers each year, flight delay or cancellation insurance can help expand the current market, the value of which is forecast at over $129 million. I think this type of insurance is beneficial for passengers, as proven in the surging demand since we introduced it last December. It’s also an opportunity for local airlines to improve their customer satisfaction.”

Meanwhile, despite not offering a separate flight delay or cancellation insurance product like these startups, traditional insurers like Liberty and the Posts and Telecommunications Insurance Company (PTI) have included this type of product in their travel insurance line. “Most customers don’t know that this benefit has always been included in Liberty’s travel insurance package, or that Liberty’s compensation benefits are the highest,” said Mr. Nguyen Ngoc Duc, Director of Direct Distribution, Renewal & Corporate Marketing at Liberty Insurance Vietnam.

He revealed that one of Liberty’s key products in its online sales channel is travel insurance, with sales leading the market. Products have expanded into sales channels like e-wallets and have attractive cooperative promotions that reach millions of customers. As a result, its travel insurance product has continued to grow over the last year and will be promoted through other e-commerce platforms in the near future.

This method of competition is leading to rapid changes in Vietnam’s insurance industry thanks to the development of digital technologies and the so-called insurance technology (Insurtech) revolution.

Liberty has been developing its online sales channels for Insurtech products with leading mobile partners in Vietnam such as MoMo, Zalo, and Tiki. “Customers can easily choose to take out convenient insurance packages on their mobile phone screen,” said Mr. Duc. “The company has also invested heavily in its technology platforms and infrastructure systems since its inception. With such preparations, we have gained a solid technology foundation and a wealth of experience to further advance in the Insurtech revolution.”

Part of the Nexttech Group’s digitized-commerce ecosystem, INSO is backed with strong and sustainable technology development, according to Ms. Van. “We are also equipped with know-how from the insurance sector’s highly-experienced professionals,” she said. “Most importantly, we build up our platform based on a deep understanding of the challenges that end-users have to deal with when it comes to buying insurance and getting compensated. Moreover, we are currently deploying OCR (Optical Character Recognition), Computer Vision, and Deep Learning and Big Data, to help us get closer to our goal of optimizing the buying and selling of insurance and claims procedures for our customers, making insurance easier to access and easier to purchase.”

In the context of Industry 4.0 disrupting traditional practices and changing the economy’s operations, OPES’s CEO Mr. Mai Anh Vu told the launch ceremony, the company has been embracing its ambition of exploring the potential of the country’s insurance market and becoming a leading and innovative digital insurer in Vietnam. It has integrated technology into insurance products to bring insurance products and services directly to customers.

The company aims to apply digital technology, diversifying sales channels and agile working methods to design insurance products in accordance with user experiences. In particular, its smart service product is a technology system that allows for high interaction with and understanding of customers. OPES is now providing many insurance product lines, including health, travel, motor vehicle, and property. The application of AI and Big Data is a step forward for the company to increase customer understanding and promote information to the right customers with the right content.

Flight delays are, in fact, opening up opportunities for many insurers. Local airlines have to inform passengers if their flight is delayed by 15 minutes or more, according to Circular No. 27/2017 on the quality of passenger services at airports and Circular No. 14/2015 on non-refundable advances for air transportation, both issued by the Ministry of Transport. The ministry also regulates different compensation levels for domestic and international flights based on the distance travelled.
However, airlines can be exempt from compensation obligations if the trip is delayed due to weather conditions or technical or security reasons. Airlines are therefore likely to spend modest amounts of money on flight delay compensation. This has created ample opportunities for insurance companies to establish a firm foothold in this niche market segment.

According to the Insurance Association of Vietnam (IAV) and the Asia-Pacific Risk and Insurance Association (APRIA), Vietnam’s insurance market is growing strongly, with the non-life segment accounting for 12 per cent of the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) per annum over the last three years. “But we are still in the early stages of development and Vietnam has the lowest insurance penetration among regional countries,” Ms. Van told VET.

Along with robust growth in smartphone use, she went on, Insurtech is the right answer to Vietnam’s under-penetration problems in both the life and non-life segments, because traditional sales channels aren’t able to approach such a huge population of mobile phone owners within a short period of time. “Insurtech remains a fairly new concept, and technology application at local insurance companies is still not efficient,” she said. “This is why INSO wants to support these companies with technology solutions to optimize online selling and buying as well as compensation procedures. It is essential for not only the insurance sector but also for other fields to start digging into how to implement digital technologies in current business models, to ultimately grow in line with global trends.”

She added that local insurance companies are in the process of educating people about insurance and life security. “We are working together with our partners to offer micro-insurance products, for example delay insurance, so that customers can become familiar with the concept and then later on be more willing to consider buying bigger insurance products,” she explained. “We are also working with leading local insurance firms to launch more non-life products this year. Online distribution of existing insurance products on e-commerce platforms and partnerships with large e-commerce players who possess a large of number of customers is also within the plan. We are also looking to raise capital from regional investors to speed up our progress and invest in R&D and technology expansion.”

OPES, meanwhile, is providing insurance packages to drivers and customers of the ride-hailing app be and expects a new product package will be launched in the near future. It will also continue to expand online sales channels through cooperation with leading digital partners in Vietnam to continuously grow and expand access channels. Meanwhile, with a long-term strategy, heavy investment, and strong technology infrastructure, Liberty aims to continue leading Insurtech in Vietnam in the non-life sector.

Five-month public capital disbursement remains sluggish

The disbursement of public investment capital totaled only VND96.9 trillion (US$4.16 billion) during the first five months of this year, accounting for just 26 per cent of the Government’s yearly target.

The total disbursed investment capital reached nearly VND96,900 billion in the first five months of 2019, representing only 23 per cent of the yearly target set by the National Assembly.

The information was released at a teleconference discussing public investment disbursement - related issues for 2019, held by the State Treasury of Vietnam in Hanoi on May 31.

According to statistics of the State Treasury, as of May 31, the total disbursed investment capital reached nearly VND96,900 billion, equaling that of the same period last year, yet making up only 23 per cent of the target set by the National Assembly for this year.

Some localities have achieved high disbursement capital rates. Notably, the northern province of Ninh Binh topped the list of such localities with a ratio of 63 per cent, followed by the provinces of Nghe An, Nam Dinh, and Tuyen Quang which all reached a ratio of 58 per cent. The disbursement rate of Phu Tho and Lao Cai provinces was recorded at 50 per cent.

Many project management boards and project investors blamed the sluggish disbursement process on shortcomings in investment procedures, long delays of capital allocation, and difficulties in ground clearance.

The total public investment capital which ministries, central and local authorities had allocated for eligible projects, amounted to VND360.115 trillion (US$15.48 billion) as of May 25, equivalent to 98 per cent of the plan assigned by the Prime Minister.

Conference attendees noted that as the rainy season begins in many localities, more concerted efforts are needed to quicken the implementation of projects during the remaining months of the year, as well as ensure the yearly disbursement progress.

The State Treasury of Vietnam affirmed that it would continue co-ordinating closely and guiding stakeholders to complete relevant procedures while simultaneously accelerating the payment for investors and project management boards.

US$4 billion worth of G-bonds raised in five months

The State Treasury of Vietnam raised a total of nearly VND94 trillion (US$4.04 billion) via government bond auctions held at the Hanoi Stock Exchange during the first five months of this year.

State Treasury of Vietnam mobilize VND2.65 trillion (US$113.95 million) worth of government bonds during a May 29 auction held at Hanoi Stock Exchange.

The latest auction, which took place at the Hanoi Stock Exchange (HNX) on May 29, saw the State Treasury mobilize a combined VND2.65 trillion (US$113.95 million) worth of government bonds (G-bonds).

Most notably, 11 bidders bought 10-year bonds worth VND900 billion (US$38.7 million) at an annual interest rate of 4.69 per cent, 0.02 per cent lower than the ratio of the previous auction held on May 22.

The 15-year bonds were sold to six bidders for a total of VND1 trillion (US$43 million) with an interest rate of 5.04 per cent per annum, a fall of 0.01 per cent against the May 22 auction.

Moreover, the State Treasury raised VND500 billion (US$21.5 million) through 30-year bonds with an annual rate of 5.88 per cent, the same rate seen during the previous sale. It also mobilized an additional VND250 billion (US$10.75 million) from selling 30-year bonds to five bidders during an extra auction held on May 29.

Last month, the State Treasury reportedly mobilized over VND12.5 trillion (US$543 million) through G-bonds during 16 auctions at the HNX, a drop of 11.9 per cent in comparison with the previous month.

Minister identifies obstacles in build-transfer projects

Minister of Finance Dinh Tien Dung has claimed that the value of land areas used as payment for build-transfer investors stands much higher than that of the implemented projects.

Minister Dung made the statement during the ongoing seventh session of the 14th National Assembly (NA) which took place in Hanoi on May 31.

He added that the issuance of a decree on the use of public assets as payment for build-transfer (BT) project investors raises questions on how to harmonize the interests of both the State and investors, as well as overcome shortcomings relating to the implementation of BT projects.

The Government has mulled over a number of relevant issues with a hope of ensuring strict compliance with laws and handling any problems that arise, the minister noted.

He pointed out three key challenges to the use of public assets as payment for BT investors.

The first obstacle is to guarantee price parity as mentioned in the Law on Management and Use of Public Assets. In fact, a number of BT contracts had been signed prior to the law taking effect, thus leading to a failure to secure price parity. As a result, the value of land areas approved as payment for BT investors is much higher than that of BT projects. This becomes a major challenge when it comes to handling the parity issue in accordance with the decree.

Secondly, a number of shortcomings exist when simultaneously carrying out the bidding of BT projects and the auctioning of land use rights in accordance with current laws.

The Law on Investment stipulates that the value of BT projects and the selection of BT investors must be defined in line with the Law on Bidding.

Meanwhile, current legal regulations on land management requires an auction for the land used to implement real estate projects.

However, these regulations become inapplicable to BT projects as the State plays the role of buyer and investors act as sellers during the bidding process. By contrast, at public asset auctions, the state becomes the seller and investors play the role of the buyers. It is worthy of note that current laws do not allow bidding and auctioning public assets at the same price.

Pricing the land areas used as payment for BT investors also presents another challenge. Dung stated that the calculation of land prices for BT investors have run into many inadequacies in the past time, with many failing to meet legal regulations and market rules.

According to the National Assembly’s report on the implementation of BT projects, there are currently 22 localities implementing projects under this investment form.

Most BT investors have been selected through contractor designation. Furthermore, the use rights of land areas used as payment for BT investors have yet to be auctioned according to the Land Law, thus resulting in losses for the State budget.

In a report sent to the National Assembly, the State Audit Office of Vietnam noted a series of inadequacies and subsequent losses seen in many BT projects.

Bun bo Hue’s spices exported to US for first time

A local startup based in the central city of Hue has been licensed to export spices for bun bo Hue (Hue-style beef vermicelli soup) to the United States, marking the first shipment of these spices.

YesHue Manufacturing and Trading Co., Ltd, transported the shipment by air, comprising four tons of the bun bo Hue spices and nearly one ton of other items such as Hue-style chili sauce and roasted annatto oil.

Le Thi Kim Hang, co-founder of YesHue, on May 30 told the Saigon Times that the first official shipment marked the firm’s success in promoting local products to foreign markets, especially the selective US market.

Last year, she visited multiple US states in search of business partners during her business trip to the country, under a trade promotion program hosted by the Vietnam Trade Promotion Agency at the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

She managed six months of negotiations on business terms and essential procedures for exporting the spices in a way that met the standards set by the US Food and Drug Administration.

The YesHue-branded spices will be consumed through the firm’s business partners in the United States, including Ahna Gourmet LLC and Cross Border Venture LLC.

The second shipment of the spices will be delivered in the next two months. The firm will focus on its business in this market, Hang confirmed.

The specialized spices reportedly won first prize at an innovative startup contest in 2017.

Niche market opens up fresh opportunities for dairy industry

Amid an increasing competitive pressure caused by free trade agreements, dairy firms should seek to boost profits by developing new products, especially those dedicated to micro-nutrients and biomedical proteins.

Delegates made the proposal during a workshop hosted by the Vietnam Dairy Association to highlight the opportunities and challenges arising from the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) on May 31 in Ho Chi Minh city.

The local dairy industry has recorded impressive growth in recent years, most notably enjoying a growth rate of 9 per cent in 2018.

Workshop participants said that in order to utilize the opportunities and overcome the challenges from the new-generation CPTPP which came into force in Vietnam from January 14 onwards, the dairy industry must increase its competitiveness by improving product quality and reducing production costs.

The CPTPP enables dairy firms to import cutting-edge production lines and equipment, selected breeding cows, and milk products at low tariffs while the trade pact also lays out a road map for the gradual reduction of tariffs on imported milk and dairy products to 0 per cent.

In order to make good use of the opportunities emerging from the CPTPP, delegates advised enterprises to make further investment in technological innovation, improve product quality, and build up large-scale material production bases.

They called upon the State to issue policies aimed at leveraging enterprises to expand their production coupled with increased technological innovation, and enlarge specialized dairy cow farming areas.

Competent agencies were urged to tighten their control of new investment projects in order to reject those designed with outdated production lines and failing to meet food-safety and hygiene regulations. Great efforts should be put into intensifying the protection of product brands, labels, and designs.

Last year, milk products imported into Vietnam amounted to US$963 million. During the past three years, the nation raked in US$250 - 300 million annually from its export of milk products to 43 countries, including the United States, France, and Canada.

The Southeast Asian country has recently signed a protocol with China to accelerate the export of milk products to the Chinese market by September.

If local dairy firms want to cut down production costs and subsequently boost their competitiveness, they must further improve their production and increase investment in technological renovation toward higher labour capacity and productivity, said Vu Ngoc Quynh, General Secretary of the Vietnam Dairy Association.

Agriculture sector posts trade surplus of 3.3 bln USD in five months

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has reported a trade surplus of nearly 3.3 billion USD in the first five months of this year.

Specifically, revenue from the export of agro-forestry and aquatic products reached 3.62 billion USD in May, raising the five-month figure to 16.1 billion USD, up 1.2 percent annually.

Meanwhile, the total import value neared 12.8 billion USD in five months, up 2.1 percent year-on-year. Of the figure, nearly 10.8 billion USD was spent on fertilisers, pesticides, and major farm produce, marking a yearly rise of 2.7 percent.

During the period, major farm produce fetched 7.7 billion USD, down 9.5 percent year-on-year. Several commodities earned higher revenues such as tea (up 30 percent), fruits and vegetables 10.3 percent, and rubber 2.4 percent.

Apart from steep declines in prices of pepper and cashew nuts; coffee, rice, cassava, and their products recorded lower export volumes and values, which also stalled the total shipment growth.

Aquatic products brought home 3.15 billion USD, 795 million USD was from tra fish, and 1.1 billion USD from shrimps.

Forestry export maintained stable growth with a total value of around 4.25 billion USD, up 19.6 percent. More than 4 billion USD of which was from wood and wooden furniture, up 18.7 percent.

Fowl and cattle exports rose by 4 percent annually to 255 million USD.

 

The ministry also attributed slower export growth to China’s policy changes, the impacts of the US-China trade war, and the spread of African swine fever.

In order to achieve the growth of 2.7-2.85 percent in the first half, the sector asked units and localities to enhance the output of fruits, vegetables, and poultry products.

Construction on 50MW wind power plant begins in Bac Lieu

Construction on a wind power plant with a capacity of 50MW began in Vinh Hau A commune, the Mekong Delta province of Bac Lieu on June 1, as part of activities during the Vietnam Sea and Island Week and an Action Month for the Environment.

Covering a total area of 1,000ha, the Hoa Binh 1 plant is capable of generating 161,000MWh of electricity per year and built at a total cost of nearly 3 trillion VND (130.4 million USD) by the Hoa Binh 1 wind power JSC under the Phuong Anh Investment Trading and Construction Ltd.

It is expected to generate power by the fourth quarter of 2020.

Speaking at the event, Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Duong Thanh Trung affirmed that the plant suits the locality’s development orientations, contributing to tapping local potential in a sustainable manner.

He said wind power plants in coastal areas, along with the 3,200 MW liquefied natural gas project, constitute one of the five development pillars in the province in line with the Party Central Committee’s Resolution No.36 on a strategy for the sustainable development of marine-based economy till 2030 with a vision to 2045.

The Vietnam Sea and Island Week and Action Month for the Environment are being held in response to the World Oceans Day and World Environment Day 2019.-

PM wants Viettel to enter world top 10 telecom firms by 2025

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has said he wants the Viettel Military Industry and Telecoms Group (Viettel) to strive to become one of the world’s 10 biggest telecoms firms by 2025.

Speaking at a ceremony marking Viettel’s 30th founding anniversary in Hanoi on June 1, the Government leader said the State believes and entrusts Viettel with the task of leading the country in the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR).

Established in 1989 under the name of Sigelco, the group has become one of the 30 largest telecommunications companies in the world, and among the 500 most valuable brands in the globe after just 30 years.

PM Phuc said he hoped that by 2045, Viettel would be among the world's leading industrial high-tech manufacturers.

The PM emphasized that technology will be a key factor for Vietnam to avoid the middle-income trap and become a developed country, adding that innovation and invention is the inevitable path to become a powerful country.

He required Viettel to well perform its responsibilities as a main player in the national digital transformation, and quickly deploy 5G technology and infrastructure to meet development opportunities in the 4IR.

The group is also tasked with developing high-tech defence industry and manufacturing electronic and telecommunications equipment, especially network infrastructure equipment.

On the occasion, PM Phuc presented the Independence Order, first class, to Viettel.

Over the last three decades, from its initial main business of construction and installation of telecommunications projects, Viettel has developed five new industries, including telecoms and information technology services, telecom electronics, defence industry, network security and digital services.

It is considered as one of the largest and most efficient state-owned enterprises in Vietnam.

Since 2000, Viettel has earned more than 1.78 quadrillion VND in revenue; and 334 trillion VND in profit. It has spent 3.5 trillion VND for social welfare activities.

Rising consumption to help dairy industry maintain good growth

The dairy industry's revenues grew at 12.7 percent a year on average in 2010-18, and the momentum is expected to continue thanks to an increase in milk consumption in the country, according to the Vietnam Dairy Association.

According to the association’s report at a conference on the dairy industry held on the sidelines of the on-going Vietnam International Milk and Dairy Products Exhibition, per capita milk consumption went up from 15 litres per person in 2010 to 27 litres last year.

The association’s chairman Tran Quang Trung said in anticipation of free trade agreements, local dairy firms have in the past five years invested boldly in their dairy farms and cattle and imported advanced technology for their plants.

According to Trung, local firms can now manage their entire chain from raw materials to the final products by using advanced technology.

He said the industry is seeing the appearance of many new milk processing plants equipped with advanced technologies that can compete with the global milk industry.

They have also invested in producing organic and seed milk and speciality products for different groups of consumers, hoping to capitalize on market demand, Trung said.

He said thanks to improving quality, Vietnam exported milk and dairy products worth 250-300 million USD a year to 43 countries and territories, including the US, France, Canada, Poland, the Middle East and Southeast Asia. Procedures have also been completed to export to China starting this year, he said.

There had also been a decrease in milk and dairy imports in recent years due to the increase in domestic production.

But the association admitted since domestic production only met 40 percent of demand, the imports would continue.

At another seminar also held on the sidelines of the exhibition, Nguyen Thuy Duong from the Ministry of Industry and Trade said free trade agreements had opened up opportunities for dairy firms to enhance their market share both at home and abroad.

But they would continue to face challenges and this required them to diversify their products, develop new ones, including special nutritional products, and improve quality and packaging, she said.

The Vietnam International Milk and Dairy Products Exhibition will open until June 2.

Green consumption campaign kicks off in HCM City

The 10th edition of the campaign on green consumption was launched in Ho Chi Minh City on June 1 with a wide range of activities.

A highlight the event was an exchange with the theme “Say no to plastic waste, use reusable and environmentally friendly products".

This year’s campaign engaged many enterprises such as Unilever Vietnam International Co., Ltd, HCM City Urban Environment Company, Mondelez Kinh Do Vietnam, Abbott, ad VAFACO.

Notably, Saigon Co.op's supermarkets will encourage shoppers to use biodegradable and reusable bags in replacement of plastic bags. The retailer also launched many promotional programmes to promote green consumption behaviours.

These activities are aimed at helping the public identify environmentally friendly products and businesses that produce green products; and assisting consumers in exercising their rights in choosing to use green products, which are not harmful to the environment and health of the community.

Nguyen Thanh Ngan - coordinator of volunteers at the event said volunteers play a role as information providers in the community during the campaign, as well as guide the public in simple environmental protection actions that people can immediately implement.

Ly Viet Trung - deputy editor-in-chief of Sai Gon Giai Phong Newspaper and head of the campaign’s organizing board, said the event aims to encourage not only businesses but also small traders to adopt green practices and create safe products for consumers.

Petrol prices drop in latest review

The retail prices of oil and petrol were adjusted down from 3 pm on June 1 following a decision made by the ministries of finance and industry and trade.

The two ministries review fuel prices every 15 days to adjust domestic prices in accordance with swings in the global market.

Accordingly, the retail price of bio-fuel E5 RON 92 has been reduced by 269 VND per litre to a maximum level of 20,219 VND (0.87 USD) per litre; while the ceiling price of RON95-III was cut by 380 VND per litre to 21,219 VND (0.91 USD).

Meanwhile, the ceiling prices of diesel 0.05S and kerosene dropped by 220 VND and 197 VND per litre to 17,394 VND (0.75 USD) and 16,225 VND (0.7 USD) per litre, respectively. Mazut 180CST 3.5S will be sold at no more than 15,354 VND (0.66 USD), down 182 VND per kg.

Fruit, vegetable exports top 1.6 billion USD

Export turnover of fruits and vegetables has exceeded 1.6 billion USD since the beginning of 2019, a year-on-year rise of 8.9 percent.

China remained Vietnam’s top market with a value of more than over 1 billion USD, though the country is bringing in stricter regulations on product origin tracing, issuance of import licenses and quality inspections.

These new regulations could affect Vietnam’s fruit and vegetable exports.

Fruit-vegetable exports to some countries such as the US, the Republic of Korea, Japan and the Netherlands recorded high growth, but the proportion of exports to these markets remains low.

The fruit and vegetable sector aims to gross nearly 4.2 billion USD in export turnover in 2019.

Last year, Vietnam exported 3.8 billion USD worth of fruits and vegetables, 8.9 percent more than the previous year.

Digital transformation offers development opportunities

Digital transformation is considered an opportunity for Vietnamese enterprises to avoid falling behind their competitors, but many firms, especially small- and medium-sized enterprises, remain unaware of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, experts have said.

At a workshop in Ha Noi on Friday, participants said the digital transformation had occurred around the world as governments and large businesses use new technologies to promote development. The trend was already increasing customer satisfaction and opening new markets.

According to Lui Sieh, a digital transformation consultant from Hong Kong, digital transformation is understood as efforts of businesses to employ new technologies to ensure strong development and improve competitiveness.

Lui said rapid changes in both customer demand and technologies had made digital transformation crucial. Businesses in all sectors should embrace these changes.

It is difficult for firms to complete the transition rapidly because each one must meet different financial, technological and human resource requirements, according to the consultant.

Nevertheless, countries in Southeast Asia have made rapid changes and attracted investments as a result. Viet Nam has been part of this breakthrough and has great potential to develop a strong digital economy.

He said Viet Nam had advantages that would help attract investments.

"Only around 27 per cent of the country’s population has knowledge of digital transformation, but the Government has taken drastic measures to improve people’s awareness."

He said local businesses should promote digital transformation by gaining and sharing the necessary knowledge.

FLC Group to invest in three projects in Bắc Kạn

The FLC Group seeks to invest in three big projects in the northern province of Bac Kan, with total area of more than 2,600 hectares.

The projects include a resort, an entertainment and eco-urban area on Ba Be Lake on over 1,400ha with eco-houses, adventure parks, river tourism, a five-star resort and an 18-hole golf course.

The second project would be the Quang Khe resort and entertainment complex with 500ha, while the third is the North Cau River 690ha resort and eco urban area in Bac Kan City.

Le Thanh Vinh, vice chairman of FLC Group’s management board, said the projects have been carefully prepared. However, the group has not disclosed the total investment for the projects.

FLC has recently sought investment in big projects not only major cities but also in mountainous localities.

Earlier this year, it proposed building a 100,000-seat stadium with F1 racing. It also wants to build a T3 terminal at Tan Son Nhat International Airport in HCM City.

BE Group and VPBank tie up to roll out payment and financial services

BE Group JSC, the Vietnamese owner and developer of the be app, has inked a strategic partnership with Vietnam Prosperity Joint Stock Commercial Bank (VPBank) to provide beFinancial, including payment and financial services from 2019.

beFinancial, the new financial service developed by BE Group, will be one of the best mobile financial service platforms for Vietnamese people to meet the needs in daily life, as well as support the business activities of large businesses and small- and medium-sized enterprises. beFinancial provides VPBank’s financial services in the technology and fintech ecosystem of be, including payment, loyalty & reward, and financial services.

The partnership with VPBank in the financial sector will be the start and the first step towards BE Group's goal of creating an open technology ecosystem. It will develop into a platform rather than an application, allowing and welcoming other service providers to join.

In 2019, Be Group and VPBank will co-operate to launch payment and financial services for individual consumers, drivers, and corporate customers. The two will issue the co-branded credit/debit card for quick, convenient, and safe payment for products and services with many attractive incentives. Thus, individual consumers will enjoy loans with attractive interest rates and quick procedures through the co-branded card.

This strategic partnership will also provide a clear, secure, and transparent financial payment and management system to support and improve the performance of drivers. Within the framework of the agreement, be drivers can access VPBank's exclusive banking and financial services to make financial planning in everyday life easier. Especially when the drivers are in need of motorbike or car loans, they will enjoy preferential interest rates and loan terms. Thus, drivers can bring stability to their life.

One of the highlights of this partnership is the optimised financial solution for large businesses as well as SMEs. The advanced technology platform of BE Group combined with VPBank's payment system will create a professional digital technology ecosystem to optimise the trading process between entities.

beFinancial will create payment management portals for each entity to minimise paperwork and improve accuracy and transparency. With that, businesses can easily manage cash flows conveniently and closely, improve business performance, and increase profits.

“As a Vietnamese technology company, BE Group aspires to bring a coherent solution to simplify the complexities in everyday life and become a bridge between every customer and service provider. After the deployment of ride-hailing services, BE Group will focus on developing beFinacial as a digital financial product. Therefore, the partnership with VPBank – the largest private bank in Vietnam in terms of payment and financial products – is expected to bring a quick, secure, and optimal payment solution for individual consumers and corporate customers, as well as more benefits to the drivers so they can rest assured to concentrate on their work,” Tran Thanh Hai, CEO of BE Group said.

BE Group is a Vietnamese technology startup in the field of technology transportation with the ride-hailing app named be, featuring two main services, beBike (two-wheeler booking service) and beCar (car booking service). Currently, be app has been downloaded on about four million mobile devices and has about 30,000 drivers, conducting about 200,000 trips every day.

 
 
 
 
 
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