People in Ho Chi Minh City have been rushing to local lenders and seeking online services to exchange for new banknotes, which will be used as ‘li xi,’ or lucky money, given to children during the upcoming Lunar New Year (Tet) holiday.
The State Bank of Vietnam's branch in Ho Chi Minh City began allocating new banknotes of all denominations to local banks last week.
However, many residents have been unable to exchange for these new banknotes due to the limited amount.
Most lenders informed that they would offer the exchange service free of charge, but only to long-term and corporate customers.
This forced many residents to seek the exchange services online, which require them to pay a fee.
Loan, who lives in Go Vap District, Ho Chi Minh City recently posted on social media that she needed about VND20 million (US$852) worth of new banknotes and instantly met a lot of service providers.
“A man offered me the exchange service at VND1.2 million [$51], about five to six percent of the exchange amount,” Loan said.
“For smaller denominations such as VND1,000 and VND2,000, the rate is up to 10 percent.”
|A Facebook page offers gilded U.S. dollar banknotes as lucky money.|
Another service provider advertised the fee of about six to eight percent of the exchange amount depending on the denominations.
It is quite easy to look for such services online, while many service providers are also running advertisements and offering discounts to attract customers.
Aside from Vietnamese currency, the $1 and $2 banknotes are also in high demand, with each $1 banknote costing VND30,000 and $2 banknote costing VND55,000.
The current official exchange rate is $1 = VND23,470.
Some Facebook pages are also selling $2 banknotes gilded with the 12 zodiac animals, which can be used as lucky money.
A set including one of such banknote, a certificate, a blue or red leather case, and a lucky money envelope costs about VND105,000 ($4.47).
Nguyen Duc Lenh, deputy director of the State Bank of Vietnam branch in Ho Chi Minh City, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that it is illegal to offer new banknote exchange service for a fee.
“We will review the reports and work with relevant authorities to handle such a violation,” Lenh stated.