The existing SA delivery programs in Vietnam are delivered through lengthy manual processes which involve extensive physical contact and interaction. Up to 99 percent of SA payments are made in cash. The current arrangements expose several problems and challenges, the cost of which is exacerbated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Digital payment methods appear as a promising solution.
The government has set a clear direction and action plans to reduce cash transactions and increase electronic payments. A broad legal framework that supports this move is put in place. In addition, the State Bank of Vietnam is consciously taking steps to build the necessary digital payment infrastructure.
Outreach and payment service of SA programs for ethnic minorities were piloted with emphasis on women and youth. The pilot focused on enhanced modes of communications, outreach, and payment such as informing people about programs, potential eligibility, process for participation, support in the application process by using local languages and document preparation. The pilot also provided insights into ways for tailoring SA delivery systems to the needs of ethnic minorities to improve awareness, access and ultimately household welfare.
To increase access to social assistance benefits of ethnic minority groups the pilot adopted the following approaches:
- Simplifying process for updating registration and payment
- Improving beneficiary identification (issuing identification (ID) for those who don’t have or lost IDs)
- Simplifying supporting documents and make it easier for beneficiaries in applying for financial account opening or payment cards
- Better informing the beneficiaries of their rights, benefits, and entitlements
- Facilitating instant transfer and flexible withdrawal of benefit money
- Improving financial literacy for beneficiaries