About Viet Nam News

Friday, December  19, 2003

A customer checks out new bills at the Viet Nam Bank for Private Enterprises headquarters in Ha Noi. — VNS Photo Truong Vi

Curious Vietnamese sneak a peek at no-tear notes, coins

HA NOI — Thousands of people crowded into banks across Viet Nam on Wednesday to see for themselves the new bank notes and coins issued by the State Bank of Viet Nam.

At the Ha Noi head office of VP Bank the new money quickly ran out as everyone wanted a sample of the new notes, valued at VND500,000 and VND50,000, and coins of VND5,000, VND1,000 and VND200.

"It looks really nice," said the bank’s first customer, a resident of Hoang Cau Street, as she took possession of a VND500,000 note.

Many people agreed the tear-resistant polymer notes were at least the equal of other currencies they had seen abroad. For a 65-year-old woman on Ton Duc Thang Street, the big excitement was seeing coins for the first time in 20 years.

But many residents wondered if the VND200 coin would be of much use, given its tiny value, and suggested a VND500 coin would be more useful for use on buses, where fares were sometimes VND2,500.

An employee of the Bank for Foreign Trade of Viet Nam (Vietcombank) said she had changed her own money as she planned to give the new notes to her family as lucky gifts in the coming lunar new year festival, Tet.

By the afternoon Vietcombank’s two ATMs at its Ha Noi headquarters were already stocked with new notes, the head of the bank’s treasury department, Tran Thi Hoa, said.

Bank officials said many people rushed to change their money out of curiosity, rather than any real need for cash.

Vietcombank therefore set a limit of VND650,000 in new money per person, comprising one VND500,000 note, two VND50,000 notes and 10 VND5,000 coins.

Even so, its entire VND15 billion (US$962,000) supply of new notes and coins was handed out before the close of business, public relations officer Nguyen Huu Kien said.

State Bank officials suggested that businesses would be the main beneficiaries of the new money.

"It will definitely be easier for us businesses to make our cash transactions, given that banking transactions are currently not yet developed in Viet Nam," said Nguyen Trung Vu, director of Truong Thanh Century 21 company.

Before the notes were issued, experts feared the new bills would drive up the price of goods. However, prices have remained stable while the US dollar and gold prices have gone down. — VNS

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