Customers suffer as SMS banking service fees climb

Many people, on February 20, reported that the service fee for notifying balance changes via phone messages (SMS Banking) in January 2022 of some banks was 5-7 times higher than before the Lunar New Year, which took many people by surprise. They have reacted by suspending the service.
Customers suffer as SMS banking service fees climb ảnh 1
For instance, the SMS Banking service fee of Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Foreign Trade of Vietnam (Vietcombank) in January of a customer was VND77,000, seven times higher than in previous months (photo).

Customers of other banks, such as Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BIDV) and Vietnam Technological and Commercial Joint Stock Bank (Techcombank), also saw the deducted amount of VND33,000, VND55,000, and VND77,000 per month instead of VND11,000 as before.

Bank said that it was the new service fee policy that had been announced since the end of 2021. However, this notice was enclosed with another notice to waive all e-banking transaction fees, so many customers did not notice.

Specifically, at the end of 2021, Vietcombank sent an email to its customers to announce a reduction of all service fees on its digital banking application, such as account maintenance and money transfer fees. However, it also increased the SMS Banking fees from VND11,000 per month to VND11,000-VND77,000 per month, depending on the number of messages. Similarly, BIDV will charge VND9,900 for 0-15 SMS per month, VND33,000 for 16-50 SMS per month, VND60,500 for 51-100 SMS per month, and VND77,000 for 100 SMS upwards per month.

Explaining the high fees, banks said that customers still commonly use the service of receiving balance change notifications and one-time transaction passwords via SMS. Banks only charge for balance change notification services and do not charge for OTP messages. To send messages to customers, banks must purchase SMS services and pay fees to telecommunications carriers.

Specifically, MobiFone and Vinaphone collect VND820 per message and Viettel VND785 per message. Meanwhile, the message fees of these carriers for individual customers are only VND99-VND350 per message. It means that the charge rates of telecommunications carriers for SMS banking services are three times higher than that of text messages of individual clients or messages applied to other sectors.

In 2021, banks had repeatedly reported that carriers charge different rates for SMS banking services without explaining clearly how their charges were calculated, only stating the reason that the banking services require high confidentiality. The Banking Association had also sent many official documents to the Ministry of Information and Communications, asking for drastic direction for telecommunications carriers to implement seriously the reduction of SMS fees for banking services, but there was no response.

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