The Doing Business 2020 report released by the World Bank evaluated Vietnam’s credit access index and increased its ranking by seven levels. What are your thoughts on this new ranking?

This is a remarkable achievement for Vietnam. It also demonstrates that its banking sector has supported the implementation of government resolutions on improving the business environment and creating favorable conditions for individuals and enterprises to access credit in a fair and transparent manner. The result also expresses the determination of the country in forming a stable macroeconomic environment to attract both domestic and foreign investors.

In order to contribute to the growth of Vietnam’s credit access index, how has Techcombank implemented credit support programs for enterprises in recent years?

Techcombank has a customer-centric strategy that targets six consumption-led economic sectors that account for nearly half of Vietnam’s GDP. We serve as a one-stop solutions provider for our corporate customers and their value chains. Within the Business Banking, we have embarked on an ambitious transformation journey since 2016 to completely redesign our business model, from identifying key economic sectors and related sub-segments to upgrading our technology and digital platforms, with the aim of being a long-term trusted partner to support the growth of Vietnam’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

As SMEs grow, their needs become more complex and diverse. Depending on their business life-cycle and the industry in which they operate, we provide customized industry-focused solutions via business programs based on deep customer insights of their unique needs.

Riding on Vietnam’s remarkable economic growth driven by trade liberalization and global integration, we now serve more than 35,000 lending and non-lending SME customers and our funded outstanding loans increased a significant 48 per cent year-on-year from September 2018 to September 2019.

In what direction have procedures supporting enterprises been implemented in order to save costs for customers in general and the SME customer segment in particular when they access credit from Techcombank?

We recognize that in today’s rapidly-changing business world, businesses that are able to act fast and adapt to evolving consumer needs will be more successful. With that in mind, we have streamlined our credit approval process as well as improved our key transaction processes, such as the issuance of Letters of Credit and Letters of Guarantees and loan disbursement, to make banking simpler and more efficient for our SME customers. Our aim is to enable loan disbursement and issue Letters of Credit and Letters of Guarantee within three hours of a request being submitted by the customer (subject to the required documentation being provided in full). Our aim is to make banking simpler and more efficient for our clients, which in turn will allow them to improve their productivity and business efficiency.

We also recognize that high bank transfer fees for local payments has been a pain point for our customers, especially SMEs, when they often have to make several payments from different banking platforms. Therefore, we led the way and were the first bank to offer Zero Fees to our SME and Corporate customers when they initiate payments through our Corporate Online Banking platforms such as Fast E-bank (FEB). Our commitment is to offer this to all clients, leveraging FEB for local payments without any cap, thereby making our Zero Fee offering truly unlimited and without any caps or restrictions.

As at September 2019, more than 18,000 customers had benefited from our Zero Fee program, which is a two-fold increase over the past 12 months. Our customers have benefited from this offering and have saved on fees, which in turn has optimized their operating costs.

We strive to bring the best solutions to our customers through continuing to add enhanced features on the FEB corporate online banking platform. Starting from February, SMEs and Corporate customers who avail themselves of our digital banking solutions will also enjoy preferential foreign exchange (FX) rates and overseas remittance fees and also enjoy interest on their Current Account balances via a tiered interest rate offering, in addition continuing to enjoy Zero Fees for local transfers. Our aim is to empower our customers via minimizing their operating costs and save them time, thereby enabling us to collectively “Be Greater, Everyday”.

Techcombank is an innovative investment bank in technology and is gradually moving its products from services to digital channels. Thanks to technology, how long has the transaction time for customers and businesses been shortened?

We aim to provide our customers with a superior banking experience in terms of speed, convenience, and efficiency through digitalization, which is in line with the government’s guidelines on reducing the amount of cash transactions nationwide.

Besides the improvement in turnaround time for SME customers mentioned earlier, bank-wide we have achieved remarkable digital transformation over the past three of four years. For example, our year-to-date September 2019 bank transaction value was nearly VND2,120 trillion ($91.39 million), which is three-times than in the same period of 2018. Our customers can now apply for credit cards online, with an approval process completed within 15 minutes when the required information is provided by the applicant. In addition, we offer higher interest rates to our individual customers for their savings balances when they transact via online and/or mobile.

With customer-centric product design thinking originating from a deep understanding of customer needs, Techcombank aims to continue to simplify and digitize our key processes with the aim of improving service quality and increasing customer benefits. For example, the digitalization process of M + (i.e. retail mortgage loan application) has successfully shortened the application processing to some 200 minutes, while the total time to obtain a successful loan can be only three of four days, so customers can access and manage their loan profiles. This digital transformation has brought about significantly-improved customer experience and satisfaction.

In order to continue upgrading the index in the Doing Business 2021 Report, what does Techcombank in particular and other credit institutions and the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) need to do?

In the years to come, we will continue to invest heavily in outstanding human resources and upgrade our digital technology platforms with the aim of improving the customer experience and efficiency.

Vietnam has more than 500,000 enterprises, more than 98.1 per cent of which are SMEs. The number of new SMEs every year is over 120,000. It is the evident that SMEs today play an increasingly pivotal role in Vietnam’s economy, in particular providing job opportunities and increasing their contribution to overall GDP growth.

We aim to be a key financial partner of our SME and Corporate customers and hence “Be Greater Together”.