According to data collected by commercial banks, about 80 percent of transactions at ATMs are cash withdrawals. As people often receive wages and bonuses before Tet, the rising demand for cash can lead to crippling burdens for ATM machines in the days prior to the holiday.
Nga, a resident of Dong Da district, Hanoi, told the Nong thon Ngay nay (Countryside Today) newspaper that to avoid the long queue of people waiting to do transactions, she had to withdraw money earlier, from February 8.
Meanwhile, ATMs in Bac Thang Long Industrial Zone, Dong Anh district are under the huge pressure as workers want to withdraw money before heading home for Tet.
Thao, from the northern province of Vinh Phuc, a worker at the industrial zone, said ATM overloads happened annually during the holiday.
“People plan to withdraw from VND15 million to VND20 million (US$660 to US$880) but the banks limit it at VND5 million (US$220) per transaction so we have to wait. A lot of them have given up already,” she said.
The workers have to wait 30 to 35 minutes to do transactions at ATMs. The situation is more serious at rush hours in the afternoon and days near Tet.
Do Minh Tu, deputy governor of the SBV, said that the bank would tighten cash management in all localities and be ready to mobilise resources to satisfy the demand for cash.
Dao Thi Phuong, deputy director of SBV branch in Bac Ninh province, stressed timely cash restocking is needed to prevent ATM overloads.
“Commercial banks need to stock an adequate amount of cash to refill ATMs and collaborate with police to ensure security during the process,” she said.
In Bac Giang province, another hub of industrial zones, different solutions have been used to tackle the problem.
According to Tran Xuan Dung, deputy head of the provincial branch of Vietcombank, three additional machines are set up at Van Trung Industrial Zone.
Also, instead of transferring money to workers’ bank accounts, Bac Giang Texile Company asked Vietcombank to bring cash to its office and directly distribute year-end bonuses to some 6,000 workers.
“At least, it reduces 6,000 people doing cash withdrawals and helps to ease the pressure on ATMs,” said Dung.
The situation also happened in the southern province of Binh Duong, which is packed with industrial parks and processing zones. Workers, mostly from other provinces, queued up for long lines in front of ATMs. Many said they have come to several different ATMs at several locations to try their luck, but to no avail.
According to a Government decree, banks that let their ATMs remain broken, short of cash or other issues that inconvenience customers can be fined VND10 million - VND15 million (US$441-US$661). A hotline number is also required to be present in all ATMs so customers can quickly report problems.
According to statistics released by the SBV, the country has more than 127 million banking cards of all kinds, more than 17,300 ATMs and 260,000 point-of-sale machines.