Vietnam Mobile Payment Towards A Data Society

This case study was consolidated in August 2020

Project Background

Over the past decades, the business world has witnessed dramatic changes, thanks to tremendous motivations from digital transformation waves, among which innovative payment solutions and platforms play a remarkable role in the revolution. In many countries, mobile payment services have become an increasingly crucial part of people’ daily lives. Switching rapidly from being an emerging trend to becoming a daily favourable transaction method to many, mobile payment has consequently changed the way of doing business.

In Vietnam, the high penetration rate of Internet, smartphone, young population and low finance inclusion were good premises for mobile payment. Furthermore, the mobile payment market was only in its early stage, making it a good timing to enter.

As a major group in Japan with experience investing in digital payment networks and having resource in finance, retail, ICT, our Client was able to foresee the potential and importance in this field. From that perspective, the Client and B&Company agreed to start a research project about mobile payment in Vietnam, focusing on the following objectives:

  • Establish a knowledge base of this business in Vietnam and tentative strategic options from mid and long-term vision
  • Evaluate the growth potential of mobile payment services in Vietnam and possible future scenarios
  • Evaluate possibility for client to participate in this business and develop potential partnership
Client : Undisclosed
Type : Market Research, Consulting
Industry: Fintech
Date : 9/2018 – 2/2019
Team : China, Japan, Vietnam


The project not only required overall market study, player evaluation but also included strategic planning and consulting. Additionally, the target business was quite new in Vietnam, which led to the needs for case study research and analysis of practices from different markets. It also raised another question of how to predict which model could be the most applicable in the case of Vietnam market. In order to do that, the research team (gathered from the Client team and B&Company) had to collaborate closely to choose the most relevant approaches and methodologies.

The fact that mobile payment record in Vietnam was young adds more challenges for the implementation, since related information and statistics were still limited. To be able to collect and combine data for a thorough and clear image over the market, the team had to look up various sources, conduct in-depth interviews with different major parties and players, then integrate collected data for further calculation and estimation at the highest accuracy. During the progress, communication was also a critical matter to keep the project running smoothly without any interruption or misinformation with the project team members based in 3 different countries (China, Japan, and Vietnam).

All in all, this was a considerably big project with a wide scope covering both global research and national study. To achieve the final goals, a lot of skills were needed to build up a plan and deliver good results, from research design, research skill, fieldwork coordination, data processing, teamwork to competent business planning and forecast. Thankfully, our team of international experts and enthusiastic local members, has successfully overcome difficulties and delivered an insightful report with market intelligence that promises to contribute to the client’s initiatives.

B&Company worked together with the Client to come up with the most comprehensible and effective solution for each stage.

  • Research design and planning

To better capture the whole image, we decided to approach from a big, general viewpoint to specifics through a 4-step scheme:

1) Study the world status of mobile payment and some typical case studies
2) Analyze Vietnam’s situation
3) Forecast future trends of the domestic market
4) Brainstorm for strategic options

To make comparison between global examples and Vietnam, our team agreed to use 5W1H model (Who-What-Where-When-Why-How) to evaluate each case and concluded what are similar and can be lessons for Vietnam.

More specifically, for Vietnam market study, our internal discussions led to the decision of an inclusive research, including desk search, in-depth interviews with government authorities and major players, surveys for micro retailers and Focus-Group-Discussion with customers.

  • Fieldwork implementation

The research scope and approaches required the team to be divided into sub-groups and conduct each part simultaneously. Weekly meetings and regular team check-ins were maintained to update progress and determine next steps.Despite the wide scope and heavy workload, the consultation from advisors as well as the attempt of skillful Vietnamese staffs were great attributes to the project success. Having deep expertise in conducting market research, we constantly discussed and utilized our internal/external resources and networks so as to find relevant candidates for interviews and carry out fieldwork with the best quality standard.

  • Reporting and consulting

Due to the project’s time pressure and demand to catch up with opportunities and prospective partnership, besides predefined milestones for interim/final reports, the executive team proactively organized a number of quick sessions to update the progress and new findings on-the-go directly with the Client. Being able to create a project team with our Client based on mutual trust, open discussion and idea sharing was one of the keys to the productivity and success of this project.

During the project implementation, we were sticking to the objectives, which were to evaluate the opportunity to enter Vietnam’s mobile payment market and outline the strategies accordingly.
Followings are some remarkable findings from the research results:

  • World status

Recorded statistics showed mobile payment was booming worldwide. However, there were different variations in practical success model in each country, depending on banking infrastructure, non-cash penetration, IT literacy or demand/trigger…At that time, it could be summarized in 4 main types of mobile payment development:

1) US type: Starting from OS-brand oriented mobile payment using contactless method, this type was mostly popular in developed countries where NFC cost was affordable
2) China type: This type was developed in many mid-developing countries, where Internet service providers were prominent mobile payment players. QR code was on the go, due to its low cost and easy technology
3) EU type: Mobile payment was an extended service provided by banks. This type was seen mostly in developed countries with high bank penetration ratio
4) Kenya type: In this model, mobile payment is supplied by Mobile Network Operators (MNO) using phone-based front-end technology, with the aim to support low-income consumers without smartphone or bank account

  • Vietnam status and forecast

We were all witnessing Vietnam’s modernization and globalization, which created both chances and challenges for mobile payment.Driving factors: With a young population very adaptive to new technologies, plus the stable increase of smartphone usage and e-commerce, there was a big chance for mobile payment. Vietnam’s government also planned to prioritize non-cash payments, in which mobile payment would be pointed out, too.Bottle-necks: Cash was still the most common payment method in every daily transaction. Infrastructure at an improper level, represented by low bank account ratio, was another hurdle.Many players had joined the Vietnam’s mobile payment market, but none showed an outstanding performance and great results. While a lot of foreign opponents intended to interfere but were restricted by some Vietnam’s regulations, domestic Internet services and MNOs had more advantages to develop in near future.

  • Opportunity for mobile payment and beyond

Based on what was found from the research, it could be seen that there was still room for new players joining the game. However, as long as the old cash habits of Vietnamese customers remained as a dominant payment option, the market would still be fragmented with no big dominators. Some ideas from in-depths interviews suggested it would take no less than 5 years until a majority of population will give up on cash and accept non-cash payment. That was such a long way to go.Nevertheless, we could see potential future mobile payment and related applications could bring to life, by enhancing a more convenient society architected by data gathering. From daily life businesses such as convenience store, vehicle booking… to public services like hospital, transportation management or smart city, mobile payment could be adopted and make life much easier. Eventually, the final destination of every country would be a Data Society, where mobile payment and other digitization shall become a bridge to connect and serve people.