Vietnam – Contactless economy: unexpected momentum and the future at hand

It’s been two years since the Covid-19 pandemic turned the world upside down. The usual daily life is restricted, but that was the impetus for the new normal such as “no contact” and “social distancing” to appear.

In the morning, when you go to work, you can book a car on a mobile phone application to your office. At the end of the trip, the fare is paid through the application, not cash.

Stepping into the office, you no longer have to use your fingerprint to check in, but the system recognizes each employee’s face to open the door and record working time. Offices are also less staffed, as there are virtual assistants or employees can communicate through mobile applications.

Not only at offices but also at public areas, less touching is also quite popular. Nguyen Dang Hung, Deputy General Director of the National Payment Corporation (NAPAS), said there is no need to use cash to buy tickets on buses, and people just need to lightly touch the chip card on the card accept device to receive tickets.

At airports and train stations, there are more and more check-in kiosks. If they do not check in online, passengers can easily check-in at kiosks to get tickets.

Banks also set up 24/7 transaction counters, where customers can deposit, withdraw money or open cards… through virtual tellers. Thanks to this support, people no longer have to wait in long queues at banking transaction points.

The tourism sector is a strong non-touch industry, which is a trend that helps ensure the safety of visitors during the epidemic season.

At many hotels, booking phone calls, waiting in line at the check-in area, turning device switches on and off, etc. are replaced by touch steps on a mobile application. Many hotels also use modern equipment to promptly update customer feedback and quickly solve problems.

At restaurants, diners can order, pay, and receive food on the app. The whole process is completely contactless, without using cash or cards. By this way, customers and employees avoid touching the restaurant’s menu, limiting the exchange of cash.

The time of digitization

Contactless economy: unexpected momentum and the future at hand

Digital-based contactless services are gradually replacing face-to-face services. Mr. Jerome Ly, CEO and Co-Founder of Savyu, a startup launching a contactless ordering solution during the social distancing period, said that the F&B industry has faced a serious crisis amid the pandemic.

“A lot of friends and partners around me are restaurant and bar owners who had to close their businesses because they couldn’t stand the pressure. Others tried to stay with a small number of customers. Restaurant staff also had their salaries reduced,” he said, adding that’s why they tried to find solutions with industry partners to overcome difficulties.

CEO of Sojo hotel chain Nguyen Ba Luan revealed that the digital experience journey of guests is built “down to every centimeter” thanks to the customer-centric strategy and it is realized on the most advanced technology platform.

“Sojo’s ambition is to redesign and even revolutionize the experience for guests staying in Vietnam in a new context. There, the need to protect the health of each person is of paramount importance and the experience content is pushed to the highest. Physical contact takes place only in a few carefully selected and calculated touch points,” said Luan.

Ms. Dang Tuyet Dung, Director of Visa Vietnam and Laos, said that consumers’ shopping and payment habits have changed significantly since the outbreak of the pandemic. Customers look to electronic payment methods such as contactless payment, online payment with the desire to experience convenient and fast features, ensuring safety when the epidemic is complicated.

Meanwhile, Dr. Pham Cong Hiep from RMIT University, said that the pandemic is changing the way we work, eat, shop, exercise and spend our free time in ways we never thought before. Individuals and organizations should prepare for the contactless economy now, as new ways of life and business practices are emerging all around us.

He said that the requirement for digital transformation in many industries has “never been so urgent” to ensure that we can move from a ‘multi-touch’ to a ‘less-touch’ business model and even a ‘no touch’.

Moving towards a contactless economy

Contactless economy: unexpected momentum and the future at hand

The extremely rapid transition from direct contact to contactless, due to the impact of the epidemic, has become a major problem globally. South Korea achieved an annual growth rate of 13.5% in the contactless market, the size of which is estimated to reach 292 trillion won by 2023.

The Korean government is focusing on development of non-contact services close to daily life, such as medical care, education, business, consumption, entertainment, logistics and distribution, information and security, transportation.

Vietnam is also moving towards a contactless economy. Vietnamese businesses and government agencies have initiated many activities to reduce many-touchpoints for the economy.

A recent survey by the Mobile Marketing Association shows that digital services have grown thanks to many first-time customers using online services for during the epidemic season.

The expansion of non-cash payment is one of the effective solutions to achieve the “dual goal”, both preventing and fighting epidemics, protecting the people’s health, and implementing solutions to remove difficulties for production and business, socio-economic recovery and development in the “new normal”.

The pandemic also accelerates the Government’s plan by 2030 to provide a variety of public services on different means of access (including mobile phones) and handle administrative records at all levels of government on the cybernetwork.

To deploy contactless technologies and services, people will need 5G networks featuring ultra-high connection speeds, ultra-low latency, and mobile edge computing. All three major mobile network operators in Vietnam, including Viettel, VinaPhone, and MobiFone, have deployed 5G networks in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and a number of provinces and cities. With speeds 10 times higher than 4G, 5G is expected to solve more difficult data network problems, delivering faster experiences.

Dr. Nguyen Hoang Thuan, RMIT University, said: “The shift to online interaction of customers will push businesses to invest more in digitizing core processes. Now, many domestic enterprises see digitalization as the key to sustainable growth.”

Duy Anh