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World Bank grants Vietnam over $6mn to cope with COVID-19

The World Bank (WB) and the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) on Thursday signed an agreement for more than US$6.2 million in grants provided to enhance Vietnam’s surveillance and testing capacities during the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

The signing ceremony of the grant agreement took place in Hanoi between representatives from the WB and Vietnamese central bank.

“The COVID-19 situation in Vietnam is evolving quickly,” Stefanie Stallmeister, acting country director for the WB in Vietnam, was quoted as saying at the event in a WB press release.

“This emergency operation will not only support the government to quickly monitor and respond to COVID-19 but also contribute to building a resilient health system for future health emergencies,” she said.

The Vietnam COVID-19 emergency response project is granted by the Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility (PEF) through its insurance window allocation to Vietnam.

PEF is a financing mechanism housed at the World Bank to provide an additional source of financing to help some countries deal with large-scale outbreaks.

According to the SBV, the project would strengthen the capacities of the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology (NIHE) and other testing laboratories nationwide, which is important now to improve the capability in the judgment of herd immunity against the COVID-19 pandemic.

One part of the grant will also be used for adding more medical equipment to the Center for Research and Production of Vaccines and Biologicals (POLYVAC).

The project is also going to support 200 laboratories involved in the process of COVID-19 surveillance and testing in hospitals and provincial Centers for Disease Control across the country.

In addition to that, the WB grant will support Vietnam’s efforts in the research and production of vaccines. This is expected to improve Vietnam’s capacities in detection and response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

SBV deputy governor Nguyen Thi Hong, on behalf of the Vietnamese government, expressed gratitude to the WB and the PEF for their valuable support.

“We hope in the future, the World Bank will help Vietnam looking for more financial grants like this project,” Hong said, adding the central bank was working closely with the Ministry of Health and other agencies to complete the necessary procedures to receive the grant as early as possible.

Vietnam’s COVID-19 tally sits at 509 cases, with 373 recoveries and one death as of Friday afternoon, according to Ministry of Health statistics.

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Timo officially moves to new banking partner

After five years of establishment and development, Timo, the digital banking platform which was awarded Best Digital Bank in Vietnam 2019 by AsiaMoney, has decided to join forces with a new banking partner — Viet Capital Bank — in order to deliver more rapid innovation and a better experience to customers.

The new app is called Timo Plus, which is an improved version of Timo that will continue to be one of the innovative digital banking platforms in Vietnam when it launches in September.

Timo’s mission is to provide a smart financial management platform with a focus on the best user experience.

With the intuitive and user-friendly interface of Timo Plus, users can conveniently send and receive payments, manage savings and investments, borrow money and create financial plans.

To accomplish this mission, Timo has striven to find a suitable, long-term partner who brings not only the core banking systems but also shares our vision of creating the best digital banking platform for the increasingly sophisticated customer base in Vietnam.

Thus, after rigorous study and due diligence, Timo and Viet Capital Bank decided to form this strategic partnership.

With this partnership, the new digital banking application, Timo Plus, will continue to have all the best features of the current Timo app and will continue to innovate on Viet Capital Bank’s core banking platform and technology.

The user experience and benefits of customers are always Timo’s main focus, and it will continue to put customers first in the new Timo Plus app.

Timo’s existing customers will have the option to seamlessly migrate to the Timo Plus application with the new banking partner, Viet Capital Bank, in the coming weeks.

The transition is expected to be completed on September 8, 2020. After this date, Timo customers will no longer have use of the current app.

Those who have not already migrated to the new Timo Plus app will have the option of maintaining their account with VPBank or shut down their account.

Putting customers first has always been Timo’s focus irrespective of banking partner.

During the transition, customers can visit the website for more information, email [email protected] or call 1800 6788 during working hours. Timo is ready to serve and support customers as usual.

About Timo’s digital banking platform

Established in 2015, after five years of building and developing, together with receiving the support of customers, Timo as a digital banking platform has brought customers outstanding products and services in the Vietnam banking market.

Timo provides its customers with a comprehensive set of tools to support their financial needs with essential banking services.

Timo’s hybrid ‘Hangout’ brick-and-mortar concept, combined with the simple and user-friendly application, brings modern banking services to the public in the most innovative way.

Timo Spend Account enables spending and tracking of money with a fully functional account and debit card for transferring money, paying bills, topping up credit to any mobile phone number, and access to ATM withdrawals nationwide — all for free.

Timo members have the ability to send money to other Timo members using just their email address.

Smart Savings options like Goal Save enable built-in financial planning for short- or long-term goals with the option of recurring contributions towards their goal from their Spend Account.

Term Deposits also encourages digital savings using competitive interest rates and intelligence to help customers break down the Term Deposit into smaller units for maximizing interest earned even in case of early redemption.

Lending products like Fast Cash or overdraft can be applied for and credited to the customer’s accounts in under 30 minutes, while applying for a Credit Card is aimed at minimizing hassle.

Customers can also purchase insurance, flight tickets and invest in mutual funds through partners’s products available right in the Timo app.


About Viet Capital Bank

Viet Capital Bank was established in 1992. Over 27 years of development, with the business strategy of becoming a modern and multi-functional bank, Viet Capital Bank has taken great strides in the transformation of the banking sector in Vietnam through a focus on technology and customer care, especially for SMEs and individual clients.

In digital banking, Viet Capital Bank is recognized as agile and quick to adopt digital transformation initiatives such as being the first to implement eKYC with TrueID technology from VNG.

Viet Capital Bank has also been a pioneer in online and mobile banking, and has led the banking sector in partnerships with the leading fintech and digital financial services innovators.

Its business results through the first six months of this year reflect the benefits of this focus on technology and innovation as the number of transactions and transaction value handled by Viet Capital Bank have increased by over three times and over five times, respectively, as compared to last year.


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Analysts, authorities make contrasting claims about high Vietnam gold prices

Analysts, authorities make contrasting claims about high Vietnam gold prices

Customers buy and sell gold at a jewelry shop in Binh Thanh District, Ho Chi Minh City, August 7, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran.

A supply shortage in Vietnam has widened the difference between domestic and global gold prices, according to experts, but authorities reject the claim.

Gold prices have been rising relentlessly this year as investors sought a safe haven amid the uncertainties caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Vietnamese gold prices have always been higher than international rates, but in recent weeks the difference has been widening.

Prices of the popular SJC gold on Saturday morning was VND60.3 million ($2,594.87) per tael of 37.5 grams (1.2 ounces). This translated into a difference of $150, up from $40-100 last month.

Huynh Trung Khanh, senior consultant to the World Gold Council in Vietnam, Singapore and Indonesia, said the growing difference could be because there is a short supply and gold sellers have hiked prices.

The chairman of the Vietnam Gold Investment and Trading Corporation (VGC), Tran Thanh Hai, concurred with him saying local distributors like Saigon Jewelry Company (SJC) and DOJI are concerned about a shortage and have pushed their prices up.

DOJI reported a 30 percent surge in the number of customers in July and this month from a year ago. Bao Tin Minh Chau, another seller, said at times in recent weeks demand was several times higher than in the same period in past years.

But authorities dismiss this. Nguyen Hoang Minh, deputy director of the State Bank of Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City branch, said there is no short supply of gold bullion.

Gold companies are only pushing up prices to hedge the risks arising from the global volatility, he said.

Vietnam, with reserves of nearly $90 billion, could intervene in both the gold and foreign currency markets if necessary, he added.


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Vietnam becomes second most optimistic country in Q2 2020: Nielsen

After one year, Job security overtook Health to become No.1 concern of Vietnamese consumers.

Overcoming the first wave of Covid-19, in the second quarter (Q2) of 2020, Vietnam became the second most optimistic country globally with Consumer Confidence Index of 117 points, despite being down 9 points compared to Q1, according the latest report by Nielsen Vietnam for Q2/2020. 

 Source: Nielsen Vietnam

In Q2, the Global Consumer Confidence Index fell sharply from a near historic high of 106 in Q1 to 92, indicating pessimistic consumers outnumbered optimistic ones globally for the first time since 2016. A reading below 100 is considered negative.

The 14-point drop is the largest quarterly decline since the index began in Q1 2005 and is twice the largest drop in the index during the global financial crisis in 2008/09, according to the report.

In Q2, 56 out of 68 markets in the survey reported confidence levels under 100, signaling greater pessimism among consumers globally. Ten markets reported levels under 66 (very negative territory). This implies that almost all consumers surveyed globally are pessimistic. Despite the plunge in confidence across all Asia-Pacific markets, the region polarized, being home to many of the most optimistic as well as the most pessimistic consumers in the world.

Although there was a sharp decrease from 126 to 117 points compared to the previous quarter, Vietnam still placed among the most optimistic countries globally. As such, Vietnam overcame the Philippines and Indonesia to rank 2nd in the world for having the most positive consumers, after India, whose score was 123.

 Source: Nielsen Vietnam

The combination of deteriorating job prospects, rising anxieties about short-term personal finances and spending readiness drove the decline in Vietnam’s consumer confidence this quarter.

All three drivers of consumer confidence including job prospects, personal finances, and spending intentions witnessed significant declines.

“Having successfully managed the first wave of the outbreak, Vietnam is on a rebound, however, consumer confidence is weaker overall due to the impact of the pandemic which has impacted many people’s personal situation as well as their outlook of going forward,” said Louise Hawley, managing director of Nielsen Vietnam.

Job security becomes No.1 concern

In the quarter, Job security overcame Health to be the top concern of Vietnamese consumers who continued to rank Job security and Health as their top two key concerns.

 Source: Nielsen Vietnam

Remarkably, there was a big jump in consumer concern about the Economy (31%, up 10% against Q1), which is now at the highest level since Q2 2014.

Work-life balance moved down one spot on the key concern list with less than one in four consumers indicating it as a worry (23% compared to 22% respondents in Q1). Hanoitimes

Nhat Minh


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