The Vietnam Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development, better known as Agribank, has angered customers as it decided to increase the fee for cash withdrawal made at its own ATMs from later this week.
Starting May 12, Agribank cardholders will be charged VND1,650, including a VND1,500 fee plus a ten-percent value-added tax, per cash withdrawal even at ATMs run by the same lender. The current fee is only VND1,000 per transaction.
On top of the increased withdrawal fee, Agribank will also hike the interbank transfer fee, made either via its ATMs or mobile banking platform, to 0.05 percent of the total transaction value.
The announcement has outraged many cardholders.
Thi, a textile worker in District 12, Ho Chi Minh City, who is paid via an Agribank account, said she will limit the number of times she has to withdraw cash to avoid the absurd transaction fee.
Another customer named Thanh complained that while the VND500 fee hike seems trivial, the decision from Agribank will leave a huge impact, considering it is one of the lenders with the biggest number of ATM cards in Vietnam.
Agribank's deputy CEO Nguyen Thi Phuong told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that the bank could have applied the new fee much earlier than the May 12 deadline to offset rising costs in terms of ATM operations, including new machine investment and cash storage and transportation.
Now that the bank could no longer bear the rising expenses, the new fee should be put in place, she underlined.
Phuong added that the increased fee is still below the ceiling of VND3,300 per transaction set by the State Bank of Vietnam, and could only “make up for an inconsiderable proportion of the mentioned rising costs.”
The deputy CEO also said the move is aimed at encouraging ATM users to switch to other payment methods to help reduce the use of cash in the economy.
As of December 2016, Agribank was Vietnam’s biggest lender by assets, with a total asset of VND1,000 trillion (US$44.05 billion), according to data gathered by Reuters.
Many other Vietnamese banks have also increased different transaction and service fees over the last few months.
Vietcombank, for instance, has elevated its SMS Banking fee from VND8,800 to VND11,000 per month, while VIB has also started charging customers for several services that used to be free.