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Vietnamese remain optimistic despite economic concerns: UOB

The Saigon Times

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HCMC – Vietnamese consumers display a remarkable resilience in their optimism about 2024, despite concerns about economic woes, according to a recent study by Singapore’s United Overseas Bank (UOB).

The UOB’s fourth annual ASEAN Consumer Sentiment Study (ACSS), released on November 1, assessed consumer trends and sentiments across five Southeast Asian countries: Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam.

The study indicated that 76% of Vietnamese consumers are optimistic about their financial prospects in the coming year, ranking higher than their counterparts in Indonesia (74%) and Thailand (68%).

Across the ASEAN region, the primary concerns include increasing inflation, with 62% of respondents highlighting it as their top worry, while 57% express concerns about the rising cost of living. In Vietnam, these concerns are even more pronounced, with 66% and 62% of respondents expressing unease about inflation and living expenses, respectively.

Eight out of 10 Vietnamese consumers harbor concerns about their financial situation, with the top three worries revolving around savings (32%), maintaining their current lifestyle (32%), meeting financial needs and caring for their parents’ health (30%). As a result, 65% of Vietnamese consumers are closely monitoring their spending through online banking platforms, and 60% are actively exploring products with promotions, rewards, or savings.

Financial preferences are evolving among Vietnamese consumers, with more of them allocating resources to low-risk financial instruments, such as fixed bank deposits (32%) and insurance plans (28%). Notably, 25% of Vietnamese consumers are investing more in insurance products compared to the previous year, a four-percentage-point increase over the regional average, particularly within the affluent consumer segment (36%).

Sustainability is also a growing area of interest among Vietnamese consumers. The survey found that 40% of respondents have incorporated sustainable investments into their portfolios, while 58% are open to such investments, provided they align with their risk tolerance. An impressive nine out of 10 consumers believe that sustainable investments can yield both financial returns and environmental benefits.

With an increasing level of digital proficiency, the use of mobile banking applications has experienced a significant surge in Vietnam. A striking 54% of respondents have increased their use of these platforms over the past year. Over half of those surveyed now prefer online channels for international money transfers and reward point checks. For more complex or high-value transactions, consumers still value a combination of online and in-person interactions.

Concerning payment methods, Vietnamese consumers demonstrate a strong grasp of the latest technologies, with e-wallets, mobile app-based card payments, and e-commerce payment platforms being the most popular, with respective usage rates of 67%, 58%, and 55%.

Four out of five Vietnamese consumers use e-wallets at least once a week and are eager to recommend them to others. The top choices in the e-wallet landscape include Momo, ZaloPay and VNPay.

Paul Kim, head of Personal Financial Services at UOB Vietnam, underscored the role of Vietnam’s robust economic growth in boosting consumer confidence regarding their financial well-being in contrast to their regional counterparts. Despite ongoing concerns about high inflation, a notable positive trend is the steadfast embrace of the digital era by consumers.

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