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ATMs overwhelmed by huge crowds
By Thanh Thuong - The Saigon Times Daily
Tuesday,  Jan 17, 2012,20:58 (GMT+7)

ATMs overwhelmed by huge crowds

By Thanh Thuong - The Saigon Times Daily

Workers of Viet Tien Garment Co. queue in front of an ATM truck of DongABank on Monday afternoon - Photo: Thanh Thuong
HCMC – Foreseeing a strong rise in cash withdrawal demand ahead of Tet holidays, banks have taken measures to cope with a sudden surge in withdrawals at their ATMs but huge crowds can still be found in front of ATM booths around HCMC.

Armies of workers are altogether converging at ATM stations these days to take out their wages and Tet bonuses.

The sign “under maintenance” always pops up on the screens of the ATMs of Dong A Commercial Bank (DongABank) in front of Viet Tien Garment Co. Therefore, Viet Tien has asked the bank to send two ATM trucks to the area to allow workers to withdraw their salaries and bonuses.

Nguyen Tan Dinh, deputy head of the HCMC Export Processing Zones and Industrial Parks Authority (HEPZA), said long queues had been spotted in front of ATM stations in industrial parks as several enterprises have paid their workers before Wednesday, or the 25th of lunar December. Many ATM trucks have also been sent to these places to meet the growing cash withdrawal demand of workers.

Having the highest number of ATMs nationwide, 1,626 machines, Bank for Foreign Trade of Vietnam (Vietcombank) has doubled the numbers of money transport vehicles and staff to ensure its ATMs have enough cash for withdrawal.

Le Huynh Ha, head of Vietcombank’s ATM services, said the bank had foreseen stronger cash withdrawals at this time of year, so it had doubled the amount of cash in each ATM with plenty of VND200,000 or VND500,000 notes and mobilized more ATMs.

Customers can withdraw up to VND5 million at a time and VND20 million in one day.

However, congestion has still happened at Vietcombank’s ATM stations as many customers of other banks also use its ATMs that connect to those banks’ ATM networks via BanknetVN, Smartlink or VNBC.

Small banks that also have ATMs are struggling with liquidity problems, so their ATM card holders rush to Vietcombank’s ATM network, making it hard for Vietcombank to ensure enough cash, said Ha.

DongABank has the second largest ATM network behind Vietcombank. With over 1,400 ATM machines, DongABank has still mobilized more people and resources to meet the increasing demand.

Tran Nguyen Hoai Thanh, director of DongABank’s ATM POS center, said the bank had prepared 30 new machines to replace old machines which were out of order, sent ATM trucks to places where cash withdrawal demand is running high and supplied more cash for ATMs than normal.

However, customers still have to wait and in some cases, they could not withdraw money. Thanh said money shortages at ATMs were not severe, and that ATMs would continue to be overwhelmed in the next few days as many firms had yet to pay their employees.

According to the central bank, the number of ATMs in Vietnam has increased significantly, with 12,811 machines put in service nationwide by June last year, while the number of ATM cards had reached 40 million.

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