Need to Reduce SMS Banking Fees: VBA


VIETNAM, February 24 –

Dr. Nguyễn Quốc Hùng, Secretary General of the Vietnam Bankers Association

SMS banking fees are currently three times higher than standard SMS fees. Banks are encouraging customers to switch to using digital banking services to help cut costs while keeping bank fees low for customers. Dr. Nguyễn Quốc Hùng, Secretary General of the Vietnam Bankers Association, speaks to the media about this issue.

Recently, banks have encouraged customers to switch to digital channels to reduce fees. In particular, some banks have waived all e-banking transaction fees on their digital platforms. What do you think of this, since mobile service providers have not yet reduced their messaging fees for banking services?

The payment activities of credit institutions have undergone drastic innovations. New payment methods based on high-tech platforms such as apps, payment intermediaries (NAPAS) and e-wallets have satisfied customer demand for convenience, transparency and security.

Recently, banks have encouraged their customers to use digital services instead of SMS banking. Some banks have even waived money transfer fees and monthly maintenance fees on their digital channels. This decision is necessary to help banks reduce costs while minimizing fees for customers.

In the past, banks sent messages to customers via SMS to notify them of balance changes. However, lending institutions have recently reviewed and found that the cost of maintaining this service is too high. Based on their recommendations, the Vietnam Bankers Association proposed to the Ministry of Information and Communications, and credit institutions also proposed to telecom operators to adjust SMS fees for banking services.

As far as we know, SMS banking charges are three times higher than standard SMS charges. If customers are charged the same price for SMS services, it will ruin the reputation of banks, but if banks waive this for customers, they cannot bear this burden. In particular, while helping customers reduce lending interest rates, lending institutions have reviewed and reconsidered limiting the use of messaging services, shifting balance notifications to banking apps. It is also a solution to reduce costs for customers.

Balance notification through the banking app or through other forms of electronic payment always ensures security, transparency and does not affect other activities. The effect of using SMS banking services cannot be denied, but it is necessary to ensure that charges are at a proportionate level. In the context where credit institutions have waived many fees for customers, the cost of SMS banking services charged by mobile network operators should also be reconsidered. Stakeholders must work together to propose a reasonable fee, guaranteeing the rights and interests of carriers, credit institutions and customers.

Scams by messages under the name of bank brands (SMS brand name) sent to customers to steal money are increasing rapidly, affecting the reputation of banks. While banks have to pay high service fees to the network operator, in your opinion, what is the responsibility of network operators in this regard?

In fact, these bogus messages do not originate from banks’ systems but are distributed through fake mobile broadcast devices. Therefore, network operators must strengthen security, prevent and coordinate with banks to “fix vulnerabilities” in messaging services to ensure the safety and security of the financial and monetary system.

Currently, banks have to pay very high fees for operators providing branded SMS services, they have to be incumbents to get adequate quality of service, and the network operator has to be responsible for coordinating with banks to manage the problem of fake messages.

I think operators need to improve the security of their services, preventing customers from receiving fake messages with bank branding. Pending solutions, in the short term in the contracts signed with the banks, the network operators must reserve a sufficient quantity of free SMS to the banks to warn customers of new scams or alert them to established methods.

What has the Vietnam Bankers Association done to protect the rights and interests of its members, as well as to help customers reduce costs and avoid risks?

So far, the Vietnam Bankers Association has fulfilled its roles and responsibilities in protecting the legitimate rights and interests of its member organizations. For members’ recommendations on the high cost of SMS banking, we have sent documents to the Ministry of Information and Communications proposing to review the pricing of text messaging services, so that credit institutions can support customers .

We think SMS banking is necessary, but we need to talk about it to come up with more reasonable fees. Therefore, credit institutions and network operators must agree on views, methods and setting of appropriate service fees. Especially, when the phenomenon of SMS fraud has become common, many customers do not clearly understand and accidentally operate on the messages, resulting in the loss of money in their deposit accounts. We have discussed a lot to find the safest solution to this problem.

However, on the customers’ side, they should contact the banks where they have opened accounts to check if they do not feel safe with the messages related to their account to avoid risks. Credit institutions always have a 24/7 hotline to receive information and quickly deal with such cases.

I would like telecommunications service providers to discuss, agree with the bank, review and adjust SMS charges for banking services quickly, so that credit institutions can consider better supporting customers. —VNS


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