Vietnam corporate bank accounts in 2021

Since 2003, Healy Consultants Group PLC helps multinational Clients open multicurrency corporate bank accounts in Vietnam for local and overseas companies.

Our Singapore team will project manage the multicurrency corporate bank account opening process, including preparing a quality business plan for our Client’s business. In most cases, our Client will not need to travel to Vietnam to complete the bank account opening.

We recommend our multinational Clients read this web page to avoid bank surprises later!

  • Vietnam banking problems and solutions

    NoVietnam banking problemHealy Consultants Group PLC solution
    1.

    Capital controls and repatriation of outgoing funds transfers can be an arduous process.

    Healy Consultants Group PLC will assist our Client to secure the State Bank of Vietnam‘s approval for remittances of dividends and other international transfers.

    2.

    There are few international banks in Vietnam. Foreign investors are forced to be customers with local Vietnamese banks. Furthermore, e-banking is not available in English.

    Our team will assist our Client with opening a Vietnamese bank account with international banks offering high quality English online banking, such as Citibank or HSBC.

    3.

    Bank insists the signatory to travel to Vietnam for a one-hour bank interview.

    Healy Consultants Group PLC’s Client travel policy will apply. Our staff will organise the bank meeting in our Vietnam affiliate’s office and assist our Client during the bank interview(s).

    Alternatively, where possible, Healy Consultants Group PLC’s banking team negotiates with the Vietnamese bank to have our Client visit the bank’s international branch in their country of residence.

    4.

    Vietnam corporate bank account opening for a newly-registered company is difficult when shareholders, directors and bank signatories live outside Vietnam. Global banks continue to tighten corporate bank account opening procedures and their internal compliance departments are completing more thorough due diligence of Clients. Consequently, our Clients should expect Vietnam bank account approval to take up to four weeks.

    Healy Consultants Group PLC will prepare a quality business plan for the bank to increase the likelihood of account approval. If our Client requires a bank account at short notice, we recommend an immediate Vietnam solution plus already-approved international corporate bank account.

    5.

    Like most international banks, Vietnamese banks often close corporate bank accounts without giving an open, transparent reason to their customers. To close a bank account without giving the bank signatory an opportunity to explain ‘unusual transactions in the account’ is unfair and unreasonable and places our multi-national Clients’ businesses under stress.

    We recommend our multi-national Clients open multiple multi-currency corporate bank accounts for their entity. It is unwise to open one corporate bank account and have their business be dependent on one bank.

    We recommend an international corporate bank account with a top-tier bank outside of Vietnam. Examples include Singapore, Hong Kong, Germany, Canada, Ireland, Australia or Dubai. In Asia Pacific, these include DBS, UOB, OCBC and ICICI

  • The Vietnam banking sector

    Healy Consultants Group PLC recommends out multinational Clients’ minimise funds held in Vietnamese multicurrency corporate bank accounts because:

    • Vietnam is an emerging economy and doing business in the country and banking is challenging. There is a lot of paperwork, procedures lack clarity, and the language of business is Vietnamese. Although the risk of bank failures recedes as Vietnam’s economy grows and banking regulation matures, we recommend our Clients minimise the funds they deposit in Vietnamese banks. Keep only day-to-day business expenses in Vietnam and deposit any significant sums in Singapore and Hong Kong.
    • There have a been a number of high profile bank corruption scandals in recent years. The central bank presides over a banking and financial system which has a reputation for bad debts, nepotism and corruption. In 2017, the State Bank of Vietnam (the central bank) was investigated by the government and found to be i) poorly supervising credit organisations, ii) inefficient at preventing corruption and iii) non-compliant with regulations.
    • The government and banks in Vietnam have an image problem. In a recent survey, two thirds of respondents said government corruption is a ‘big problem’. Some 15% of public service users paid a bribe in the last 12 months. Although the government is taking steps to combat the problem, for many, corruption and distrust of the government is a way of life.
    • Only 30% of Vietnamese adults have a bank account. It is still a cash-based society. Cash is used even for bigger transactions. Although there are ATMs across Vietnam, many do not accept foreign cards. Carrying large amounts of cash (US$1 = 23,000 dong) for everyday transactions is inconvenient and risky.
    • Because of Vietnam’s ongoing reputation for corruption, your Clients and suppliers may be uncomfortable making payments to, or receiving funds from, a Vietnamese bank account.
    • Vietnam has a state-run bank deposit insurance scheme. The scheme guarantees deposits in a Vietnamese bank up to the value of 75 million dong (US$3,260). This provides a level of comfort to multinational Clients when keeping funds in Vietnam. However, Vietnam’s banking system is large compared to its GDP, and this could limit the government’s ability to assist if a bank is in trouble.
    • Positively in 2020, Vietnam had one of the world’s best performing economies. Despite Covid-19 disruption, the economy grew by 2.9%, and the IMF forecasts it will grow 6.5% in 2021. The government has been widely praised for its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. A healthy economy means a healthier banking system because i) more people in jobs means greater demand for loans and other bank products and services and ii) reduced consumer debt repayment defaults. Bank asset quality and profitability is supported if the economy keeps growing strongly.
    • Because of the above, multinational Clients should find it easier to get credit from a bank in Vietnam than in most countries in Asia.
    • Although the Vietnamese banking system serves only about a third of the population, we expect an explosion in digital banking over the next few years. Because of i) the fact that many locals do not have a conventional bank account, ii) Covid-related restrictions meant cash payments were inconvenient in 2020 and 2021 and iii) smartphone use in Vietnam is high, electronic payments are surging. Digital banks will compete fiercely for business. Banking costs should fall, and service levels rise. This is good news for multinational Clients.
    • Standard & Poor’s (S&P) sovereign credit rating for Vietnam is BB with a positive outlook. Moody’s is Ba3 with a positive outlook. Fitch’s rating is BB with a positive outlook.
  • Key information on the Vietnamese banking sector

    • Most international and several local banks offer a very good range of corporate and personal banking products including multi-currency accounts, online and phone banking, checking accounts, saving accounts, debit and credit cards, fixed term deposit services. Both resident and non-resident companies can hold corporate bank accounts in any currency but use of foreign currency for domestic transactions is restricted.
    • Vietnam corporate bank account opening and e-banking activation is difficult when done through a newly-formed Vietnamese company where shareholders, directors and bank signatories reside overseas. For example, Vietnamese banks usually require foreign investors to provide a set of due diligence legalised in their home country. This significantly delays corporate bank account approval times, and adds costs and inconvenience to the engagement.
    • To improve the chances of bank account opening, our banking team will prepare a quality bank account opening application. This includes a detailed business plan. Multinational Clients should expect Vietnam corporate bank account opening to take four weeks, with e-banking activation three weeks later.
    • There is a 25% chance that our Client will need to travel to Vietnam to attend an interview with the bank prior to bank account opening. Our team will try to negotiate a travel waiver with the bank.
    • Vietnam has a comprehensive bank branch network. However, outside the big branches in Ho Chi Minh or Hanoi, exceptionally few staff speak English. Additionally, customer service is often poor.
    • Vietnamese banks are interested in providing finance to local companies that i) submit a detailed business plan, ii) demonstrate they can provide security, iii) demonstrate that the business owners have experience in the line of business, iv) submit the last three years’ audited financial statements, v) have prepared a realistic feasibility study and vi) have carried out a project strength and weaknesses analysis (SWOT).
    • If a Vietnamese company wishes to apply for a loan from a foreign bank, it requires prior permission from the central bank.
    • Healy Consultants Group PLC also assists our Clients to secure trade finance services including i) bank guarantees, ii) letters of credit, iii) finance against trust receipt and iv) documents against payment and acceptance.
    • We will help our Clients to obtain corporate finance in the form of a loan, overdraft or simply in preferential credit terms.
    • Vietnam is a signatory to the Common Reporting Standard (CRS) initiative to clamp down on tax evasion. As a result, Vietnamese banks share information on accounts and account holders with tax authorities where the company or individual is a tax-resident.
  • Foreign exchange obligations in Vietnam

    • The State Bank of Vietnam imposes foreign exchange controls on fund transfers into and out of the country by resident individuals and companies.
    • In many cases, fund transfers into and out of the country by residents and non-residents will require the foreign company to register with the state bank. Expect transactions to be delayed.
    • Non-resident shareholders can freely repatriate sales proceeds of their stake in a Vietnamese resident company, but certain requirements may need to be met.
    • Transactions between Vietnam residents can only be made in local currency, unless specifically approved on a case-by-case basis. This said, foreign currency calculation can be used for accounting purposes.

    It is important that our Clients are aware of the foreign exchange restrictions and their obligations in Vietnam. Let us know if you require Healy Consultant Group PLC’s assistance to timely and efficiently complete your responsibilities.

  • Healy Consultants Group PLC fees to help open a corporate bank account in Vietnam

    We guarantee Vietnam corporate bank account approval for our Clients.

    Vietnam banking taskOur Client travelsUS$
    Vietnam bank account for a foreign companyNo5,950
    Vietnam bank account for a Vietnamese company with company setup servicesNo4,950
    Vietnam personal bank accountNo4,950

Conclusion

Opening a Vietnam corporate bank account is easy if you know how. Contact Healy Consultants Group PLC if your firm needs assistance navigating through the different banking solutions.

Contact us

For additional information on our company formation services in Vietnam, please contact our in-house country expert, Mr. Simon Guidecoq, directly:
client relationship officer - Simon