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 International Relations

Information on Activities of the DID Vietnam Project Office.

(Cập nhật ngày: 05/05/2010 - 05:00:00 PM )
Project Update
On April 2, 2010, in Hanoi, a Signing ceremony of Interconnectivity Transactions and Switch solutions contract under the “Rural-Urban Interconnectivity to Help Fight Poverty” project was held between Central People’s Credit Fund and Electracard ECS-OPUS of India and Ocean Technology. To witness this signing ceremony, there were Mr. Tran Minh Tuan, Deputy Governor and officials of the State Bank of Vietnam. 
This project will bring benefits and efficient results to the PCF network, PCFs will expand their services, increase their image and income and clientele base; PCFs will access to modern diversified banking products; will have their staff to be trained and developed on new technology; will have closer linkage and receive more preferences and new products from CCF.  The IC solution will be implemented within about 4 months, starting from the signing date.
In the first stage of this Project, there are 8 pilot PCFs will be interconnected with CCF Processing Center to offer the same products to their members as CCF, i.e. fund transfer and IC transactions.
As informed in the previous bulletin, regarding the training component under this Interconnectivity Project, the last training course on Management OS Linux (10 days) which was provided by Bach Khoa Information Technology Academy (BKACAD) has been completed in April 2010.
Regarding preparing infrastructure platform for the Processing Center at CCF, the CCF-PIU already selected one company namely, Technical Application and production Company (TECAPRO) to provide equipment and software needed to prepare for the infrastructure platform for the CCF Processing Center. Soon after receiving the endorsement from DID Canada, a supply contract was signed between CCF and TECAPRO. This contract will be implemented within six weeks and expected to be accomplished by the end of May 2010.
Regarding the FT solution component, CCF already selected one company to provide fund transfer transaction software solution for the CCF-FT Processing Center with the approval from DID Canada, namely HT2D Software Company Ltd. The contract was signed on April 12, 2010. To start implement this contract, CCF and its partner, VAPCF and DID and its partner have held some meetings and discussion on the FT solution to be developed. It is expected that the software development will be completed by the end of June, after that it will take some weeks for test and in July the first FT transaction will be launched.
In order to support VAPCF-IT cie. team for the deployment of BMS-PCF.net and to support CCF-PIU and its partner in technologic work item planned in the Interconnectivity project, Mr. Martin Gingras from DID-Canada was in Hanoi from March 22nd, to April 15th, 2010. During this mission, a joint meeting between representatives of VAPCF, CCF, DID and DID’s consultants was convened to discuss on the issues like technical specification requirements, FT connection model, data import/export standard, system security mechanism and other issues such as requirement on accounting, audit and log, data cross-checking, trouble shooting, etc. On April 5th  and 9th, 2010, DID and DID’s consultant worked specifically with VAPCF IT cie, to detail further especially, the model to be connected with BMS-PCFs.net; understand and define the interfaces between FT functions developped by ATI and BMS-PCF software. On April 6th – 8th, 2010, DID and DID’s consultant worked with CCF-PIU and its consultant to discuss on  Technical and functional specification; understand and define the interfaces between FT functions developped by ATI and the CCF FT functions; FT connection model;  Data import/export standards; system security mechanism and other concerning issues.  After this mission, Mr. Martin Gingras will produce a report to be distributed to the project stakeholders.

Opinions sharing regarding new products- Interconnectivity and Fund transfer transactions- to be launched in the PCF network
Currently, there are PCFs offering remittance services to their members by manual way. A PCF opens its current accounts at a number of commercial banks in its operation location, for example Sacombank, Vietcombank, Agribank, BIDV, etc. When a member comes to the PCF to request for remittance to a specific commercial bank in another province, the PCF will receive the request with the money (or the member has his/her money in the account opened at the PCF) and PCF brings the money to the one of the mentioned commercial banks, deposits the money to its current account at that bank and requests for remittance to the same beneficiary as requested by the member. So the money will be deposited to the beneficiary’s account in some minutes (even some seconds) after the commercial bank teller receives the request and counts the money. It is faster for its member, the fee is competitive because the commercial bank will use its internal payment system to remit money, it may be a little bit cheaper than or equal by using Vietnamese national Inter-bank payment system.
The question is that if the PCF to join the CCF payment system, is it faster and fee competitive to the above mentioned way of remittance or not?
Following is our comments, sharing with the PCFs and CCF in the PCF network.
According to the diagnostics and analysis on the fund transfer and IC pricing strategy and diagnostics made by DID, we see that currently, in order to attract more customers, the commercial banks are accepting losses in the fund transfer and IC services and they will make up for the losses by increasing other interest and non-interest incomes, for example, from credit activities or treasury services, etc.  Furthermore, the PCF must have 100% of cash to be deposited in its current account opened at the bank in order to do the remittance, or the PCF staff must bring lots of cash to deposit to the commercial bank (100%) in order to do the remittance. It will cause travelling risks and transactional expenses. It is easy to lose the members as the banks will attract the customers directly.
With the proposed system provided by CCF, the PCF may have some advantages:
-          The PCF does not have to bring cash to the counter of a CCF branch to make the fund transfer request, as there may be an overdraft policy agreed between CCF and PCF and with the automated fund transfer solution to be installed at the PCF, it can do fund transfer transaction for the members at its own premise; It will save transactional expenses and mitigate travelling risks;
-          The CCF will use the internal fund transfer system if the money is remitted within the PCF network, or can use the Inter-Bank Payment System of the SBV in order to remit the money outside the PCF network (i.e. to the commercial banks) with competitive fees as applied by commercial banks nowadays. We know that all most the CCF branches are members of the Ci-Tad system (a National Inter-Bank Payment System in Vietnam).
-          Furthermore, with the fund transfer software to be installed at the participating PCF, the PCF can track where the money is (i.e. at the Processing Center, or at the Branch B, or at the commercial bank, …).
-          The members of the PCFs can benefit from using IC card:
o        To withdraw money from other places away from their home.
o        To make deposit in his account from another PCF or CCF
-          With the fund transfer and IC transactions, the PCF and CCF are interconnected in order to become a strong PCF network; it will enhance their images in the community, and will maintain and grow its membership.
Now all the stakeholders of the project (SBV, VAPCF, CCF and pilot PCFs with collaboration of DID) prepares all the work needed to pilot implement the fund transfer and IC transactions. As we have a saying: “if you sharpen an iron rod, in the end you will get a needle”, this project creates a chance for the PCF network to try new thing, which would bring lots of benefits to the PCF network and to the population, especially in the rural areas in Vietnam. Therefore, the PCF network (VAPCF, CCF and PCFs) are encouraged to work together and to make all efforts in order to look forward to the success of our own project.
Support for the Vietnam Association of People’s Credit Funds” Project
                                                                                                                   DID-Vietnam Project Office
Relate to the component -  Support for the Deployment of the BMS-PCF Solution, the technical expert of  DID, Mr. Martin Gingras had a mission in Vietnam from March 22nd 2010 to April 15th 2010 in order to support the VAPCF IT Co. and the CCF –PIU. The main purpose of this mission is as follow:
·         Take part of VAPCF IT team for BMS-PCF.Net deployment
·         Support IT team in corrections of BMS-PCF.Net bugs and for user tests to set up before implementation in PCF.
·         Support IT team for the implementation of an IT development methodology.
During this mission in Vietnam, from March 30th 2010 to April 01st 2010, Mr. Marin has visited the Tan Quy Dong PCF, one of the pilot PCFs for the BMS-PCF.Net in HCM city. Tan Quy Dong PCF is one of the big PCF in the South with more than over 3000 customer, having the Head office and a transaction office. Mr. Martin had meetings with the leaders and the staffs participating on implementation activities. In general, the leaders and staffs of Tan Quy Dong PCF have demonstrated their commitment and support for the VAPCF IT Co. during the BMS-PCF.Net. Also, based on his expertise, Mr. Martin has shared his experience with the PCF’s leaders and staffs and also with the VAPCF IT Co. staff in order to achieve successful implementation and also to lighten difficulties  The target of his mission is also to find solutions in order to shorten the duration and achieve the human resources efficiency during the data migration, consulting on the training approach and users support during and after the implementation.
Between April 12th 2010 and April 15th 2010, Mr. Martin had the opportunity to visit the Lien Nghia and B’Lao PCF in Lam Dong – these are also the pilot PCFs during the implementation of BMS-PCF.Net. During the visit at these PCFs, DID technical expert has received comments and heard about staff experience which had just completed or started implementation activities. Therefore, Mr. Martin has suggested to the VAPCF IT Co. that it will be useful to reduce the time of data migration in order to increase the time for the user training on the software operation and to minimize the incurring of error during the operation after the end of implementation.
Also, on April 15th 2010, Mr. Martin came to Loc Son PCF in Lam Dong province. Despite the fact that Loc Son PCF is not pilot PCF, the leaders were very interested to learn about the new tool and function of the BMS-PCF.Net and also to hear about PCF experience which has already completed the implementation.
During the visit of the PCFs, Mr. Martin has observed the constant effort of the VAPCF IT Co. and the PCF staff supportive and enthusiasm during the implementation and especially for the good relationship between VAPCF IT Co. staff and PCF staff. He has given his opinion and appreciation and emphasized that it will be one of the key of the success of the implementation.
In short, it seems that during the implementation of BMS-PCF.Net at pilot PCF of Interconnectivity project (FT and IC transactions) funded by the Bill & Melinda Gate foundation, the VAPCF IT Co. has began to gained success on implementation activities and also because the PCFs, has demonstrated their interest and their willingness to participate on the pilot implementation of FT and IC transaction in order to provide new product and services to their customer.   

Marketing: An Essential Tool

Cooperative financial services institutions were set up mainly to provide services to communities and geographic regions that had been ignored by traditional banking institutions. In many cases, there was a long road to take that required much financial assistance before the first cooperatives, caisses populaires, or other microfinance institutions, became profitable and began expanding.
In environments that are this difficult, everything is basic, including the products, services, control mechanisms, operations and results. It would have been useless at the time to undertake studies on marketing (however rudimentary), or on setting fees for products, analyzing the distribution network, client services or on anything that dealt with marketing as such. That stage had not yet been reached.
Marketing: A Necessity for 2010
Cooperative institutions and MFIs have overcome the difficulties on their path one by one and have become equipped with tools that are increasingly effective. They have trained their personnel and are now able to produce a financial return. They have succeeded to the point that commercial banks have become envious and are now attempting to enter the market usually reserved to coops and MFIs. This is where marketing as a tool must come into play if only to develop a strategy to maintain and grow cooperative institutions and MFIs within their own market.
But cooperative institutions and MFIs either have not properly understood or properly mastered this tool.  This explains why marketing is unfortunately still largely lacking among microfinance institutions and savings and credit cooperatives and mostly likely from Proxfin networks.
The Proxfin discussion moderators will therefore focus on this major operational component of a savings and credit cooperative and offer a series of articles on the topic in upcoming bulletins.  Network members interested in sharing with the other members of the Proxfin network their experiences in the area of marketing are asked to forward their articles so that we may publish them.   
 What is marketing? A Review
The main error committed by most small and medium organizations, including MFIs, is to think of marketing as just promotional activities and advertising. However, these two facets of marketing, while very important, only represent a small portion of what is considered marketing.
Marketing means offering a product or a service in the market for sale. The product or service is therefore the focus, the central core around which all other components must be organized. Based on the product or service, managers must ask themselves a series of questions. The answers will be found by turning to each marketing component as illustrated in the table below.
Product and/or Service
Marketing Component
What are they and what are they used for?
Product and services –Supply
How much do they cost?
Breakeven Point
What price can we ask for them?
Who will they be offered to?
Where (in what places) will they be sold?
Distribution Network
Who will be in charge of selling them?
Sales Force
How can they be made known to the clientele?
Advertising and promotion
How can current and future clients be reassured and loyalty guaranteed?
Client Services
What is the potential for sales?
The Market – Demand
What will the annual volume of sales be?
Marketing Plan
Do clients have an interest in buying from competitors?
Monitoring competition
The Supply of products and services
This component answers the question: What are the products and services that we supply and what are they used for?
For most MFIs and savings and credit cooperatives, supply can be summarized as a group of a few savings products and a few credit products. For the most advanced, other financial products and services may be added, such as insurance, payment cards and advising services.
In general MFIs are content to lay out their list of products and services in a brochure made available to clients and members. But very few brochures clearly explain the advantages or benefits of using one product instead of another. The difficulty in selling term deposits within financial services cooperatives is well known. These financial investment vehicles are obviously not known to most members. The merits of these investment tools must be promoted and highlighted in promotional documents.
The same goes for other savings products and all credit products. By clearly explaining the advantages and benefits of each, institutions could stimulate sales.
In our next bulletin, we will examine the break-even point and setting fees for products.



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