Banking in Vietnam had stood in place for decades before it’s moved to a new stage of Internet banking. For the first time ever, Vietnam has its first Digital Bank.
Timo stands for TIME & MONEY, which serves for the right purpose of the product: saving time on many transactions and payments, instead of being tired queuing at the banks or logging with several different internet banking systems.

On August 4th, 2015, the National Bank of Vietnam had confirmed that Vietnam Prosperity (VP Bank) bank had registered to issue a new debit card named TIMO — a new generation of Banking in Vietnam, aims to support locals and expatriates in managing their money in their way wherever and whenever.

The first Digital Banking for Vietnam— TIMO has launched recently which gives users a better solution to manage their money, bills and even top up mobile cards.

Powerful & simple. The most innovative Mobile Banking experience in Vietnam

We understand you have your priorities in life. With so many things to keep up, you’re always on the move. So, we’ve crafted the perfect banking experience around you!

Our app makes it easier than ever to access and keep track of your finances so you can spend smarter and save more. With Timo powered by VPBank, now you can bank intelligently and securely on the go!

Become a Timo member, enjoy a brand new banking experience and our exclusive offers:

*NO TRANSACTION FEES
*FREE WITHDRAWALS at over 15.700 ATMs nationwide

With the Timo app you get to enjoy the following features (more to be updated soon!):

1. POWERFUL ACCOUNT MANAGEMENT

Upon signing up with Timo, you instantly have all your accounts accessible anytime, anywhere on the Timo app. Banking can now be integrated into your daily life: check your activities, your balances and move your money around wherever and whenever!

*Spend Account: Top up, transfer, bill pay

Perfect features for busy people:

Top up: top up your phone or your friend’s easily in a blink of eye on Timo app.

Move money: FREE transfer money from Timo to any bank in Vietnam. Moreover, with Timo you can pay your electricity, internet, water… at anytime and anywhere. Remember to save your receiver/bill contact for more convenient use next time.

* Goal Save

Everyone has goals in life. Timo now makes it easier to set and keep track of them! Create, manage, contribute, and enjoy 1% interest per year with goals in Timo Goal Save. Make savings even easier by automating contributions from your Spend Account. Now you’ll reach your goals in no time!

* Term Deposit

Don’t just leave money sitting around! Move excess money from your Spend Account into a Term Deposit with just a swipe! Timo Intelligence will help you with all the calculations and make it way more convenient to optimize your saving. We’re happier when you are saving to make your dreams come true, so let us help you get there!

2. NEED SOME FINANCIAL SUPPORT? Apply for a VPBank loan!

Everyone needs help sometimes. If you are stuck and need a little extra help, apply for a VPBank loan in the Timo app.

3. TIMO SECURITY

Login in with your username and password, set up a secure quick code only you know (we do not store it), and you can enjoy the security and peace of mind of secure banking.
Did we also mention that Timo is powered by VPBank and is fully PCI-DSS compliant?

4.HELP IS A TAP AWAY
Need to get in touch with us? Simply click on Support to reach Timo Care – they’re available 24/7.

Need more reasons to upgrade your banking experience today? Join Timo and enjoy banking at the speed of your life with benefits exclusively for Timo Members:

* No ATM fees at over 15.700 ATMs nationwide
* No transfer fees (send or receive) all over Vietnam
* Free account maintenance and no annual fee
* Free disputes for card transactions and investigations into card activities

The future of banking is Timo. Save Time & grow your Money – you deserve control over your finances. We will keep working tirelessly to make sure you have the best experience possible. Stay tuned for more awesomeness coming your way!

According to kidsfirstenterprise.org

In an exclusive Interview with the CEO of Vietnams first Digital Bank Timo,  Claude Spiese is telling Fintechnews about their business model, the scalability and about some future plans. He explains why his mobile only bank is targeting 50 Millions Vietnamese and claims to be sexy and secure. Moreover this Vietnamese “Bank” is even more functional than US Bank Simple.

Claude Spiese Timo Vietnam CEO

Claude, have you just launched the coolest bank in Vietnam?

Yes!  Our design principles – for our app, our website, our marketing, our customer relations, are SSSSH – simple, smart, sexy, secure, human.  The result is the coolest bank in Vietnam.  Well, technically, VPBank is the bank, Timo is the banking channel, so we are the coolest banking channel in Vietnam.

When was the last time you visited a bank branch?

About two years ago.  First I had to open an account.  Then I had to apply for a card.  Then I had to apply for internet banking.  I filled out a lot of forms during several visits to the branch over the course of a week.  That’s when I decided enough is enough, Vietnam is ready for a digital bank.  Now, with Timo, all of that is possible in 20 minutes at our Hangout over a cup of coffee.

So you decided  to launch the first Digital Bank in Vietnam?

Shortly after my Eureka experience at the bank branch, I talked with Don Lam, the key investor for Timo who had a vision of launching Vietnam’s first digital bank.  We did some research and found out a few things.  Vietnamese hate going to the bank branch (same like me).  Vietnamese hate banking fees, especially hidden fees (also same like me).  And Vietnamese choose who to do business with depending on two things: the customer experience they receive, and the match of the brand with their lifestyle aspirations (and no lifestyle branded bank exists in Vietnam until now).  Of course we also researched internet penetration, smartphone penetration, the success of internet banking initiatives in Vietnam so far, and all that.  All research results pointed in one direction – we should  launch a lifestyle digital bank in Vietnam ASAP!

Timo is even more than a digital bank platform like Moven and Simple

Reminds a little about Moven or Simple in the US? Right?           

Yes, that’s correct – Timo is a digital bank platform just like Moven and Simple – but Timo takes it one step further.  Like Simple and Moven, Timo is a digital front end with a licensed banking partner backend.  But, whereas Moven and Simple are limited to one financial product (the current account), Timo serves as a digital platform for a full range of banking products,  and even non-banking financial products such as investments and insurance.  This model allows Timo to focus on the front end and to deliver an exceptional customer experience while the partner financial institutions focus on the back-end and licenses.

A cool, relaxing Timo Hang Out

Tell us more about Timo Hangout, this sounds kind of virtual?

No, no, it’s real, not virtual!  When you build a digital business, it’s important that you have a real, physical component if you expect your customers to believe and trust you.  That’s actually the main reason for our Hangout, to make us real in the customer’s mind.  Of course it also serves as a great location for face-to-face customer interaction, especially since the sign-up procedure is required by law to be face-to-face.  So we provide a cool, relaxing environment for all this – the Timo Hangout.

How difficult is it to bring the 60,000 people from your waiting list into your coffee shop?

Well, unfortunately, in the world of digital marketing, there is drop-off. Our acquisition rate after drop off is currently at a 10% – very good from a market benchmark perspective.  Generating 60,000 leads a month means we can sign-up about 6,000 a month.  The task for our team is to both increase the leads as well as increasing the acquisition rate higher!  Right now, 80-90% of our sign-ups occur at our Hangout, the rest at pop-up hangouts, at public cafes, or at the customers’ office.  In October, we will open our Hanoi Hangout.  And we have a few other things up our sleeve.  Of course, the ultimate objective is to do Digital KYC, once the regulator allows. But I bet many customers who join Timo by Digital KYC will still want to visit our Hangout, and they will always be welcome.

40-50 million people will be our target market!

Which are your target customers and how many are out there in Vietnam in this segment? Millenials?

Well, our marketing guys call our target segments early adopters and upwardly mobiles, or urban athletes and family champions.  But I consider a target customer any city dweller with a smartphone and 3G who uses a lot of apps.  There are about 6 million of them, most in their 20s and 30s, mostly living in Saigon or Hanoi.  But we are seeing other segments joining Timo.  Some older folks, like me,  want to be cool like the youngsters.  And some graduates are in a hurry to join the mass affluent.  And later we will expand our target segments, so ultimately roughly half of all Vietnamese, maybe 40-50 million people will be our target market.

How do you build trust with your potential customers?

First, we make sure that every potential customer knows that Timo is powered by VPBank, fully licensed and in compliance with all laws, with deposits safely held by a solid and reputable bank.  Secondly, we have an impressive physical presence, the Timo Hangout.  Lastly, our customers service builds trust in Timo.  Once customers experience a few interactions and transactions – visiting the Hangout, calling the call center, using the app – trust is built.

How did you manage to get into a network of 15,400 ATMs to serve Timo debit cards free of charge?

NAPAS, the national payment gateway which links ATMs from most all banks in Vietnam, charges a small fee for withdrawals at ATMs of banks using a card issued by different bank.  We subsidize this small fee as a way of thanking Timo customers for holding deposits with us.


How fast can I login into the Banking app?  How fast can I top-up my phone?

In the digital world, we measure “fast” by counting gestures.  If you have accessed Timo within the last 24 horus, you can access Timo with four gestures by typing a four-digit quick code.

Once you are in Timo, you can top-up your phone 100,000 dong with two gestures.  If you want to top up your wife’s phone for 10,000 dong, it takes four gestures.  The fastest in Vietnam

The Goal Save and Term Deposit functions seem to be kind of unique. Can you let us know more about that?

Timo innovates traditional retail banking products in a digital way to be more useful to our customers in saving and managing their money.

Our Goal Save account is a 1% interest bearing Current Account with a twist – you can create goals and set up recurring contributions to achieve them. Our digital interface allows the customer to set a picture for their goal and indicates whether their contributions are on target or behind. We even work with merchants to give our customers a discount for what they’re saving for.

Our Term Deposit (TD) product helps the customer avoid losing all their interest if they redeem it before the maturity date. For example, if you want to open a 12-month TD for VND 10,000,000, Timo would suggest you open four TDs of 2,500,000 each. As a result, if the customer needs a portion of their deposit amount, they only need to redeem and lose interest on one of their TDs.

How do you get feedback from your customers and what kind of feedback you get?

We get feedback from our customers in many ways.  We conduct surveys over the phone and in the Hangout.  We study app usage.  We track incoming communications by email, at the call center, on our facebook page.  Our customers are very cool, they almost always balance praise with suggestions for improvement.  We get a lot of ideas on how to make the app even better, and what features to add.  A lot of what Timo is now compared to three months ago is because of feedback which we have received during that time.

Expanding to Hanoi, System is scalable even for other countries

Seems like Timo is a perfect example of Word of Mouth Marketing or how you get your customers?

To get started we have three major channels: digital ads, B2B sales force, B2C sales force, and Hangout walk-ins.  Once we have critical mass, referrals will become the major channel, which is basically WOM.  We also have plans to do some growth hacking with partners, and they have plans to do some growth hacking with us!


Will you expand soon to other cities like Hanoi, Danang, Haiphong, Can Tho, Nha Trang, and will we see more Hangouts in HCMC?

I tell the CEOs of all the banks who want to copy Timo that we intend to open two or three hundred Hangouts!  But actually, I plan to open one in HCMC and one in Hanoi.  How we plan to expand to the rest of Vietnam, well, if you don’t mind, I won’t answer that question because I don’t want the CEOs of competing banks to find out until it’s too late to copy us.

300 Timo Hangouts?
You system is kind of scalable, so it could also used in other Countries.  I am wrong?

You are not wrong, but there’s more.  Timo is scalable in three dimensions: adding more and more customers, adding more and more financial products, and expanding to new markets.  The growth we are experiencing now (almost 100% month on month) is not going to end any time soon.

Read also, “Digital Bank Timo Targeting Vietnam’s Millennials, The “Simple” for Vietnam”

Bio: Claude Spiese is co-Founder and CEO of Lifestyle Project Management Vietnam Ltd, the company behind Timo.

In twenty years since settling in Vietnam, Claude has worked in management and consulting positions in Fintech for a wide range of companies and organizations, including VinaCapital, Ministry of Finance, State Bank of Vietnam, SCEC, HIFC, Hanoi Stock Exchange, KPMG, and numerous Vietnamese commercial banks.

A US citizen, Claude was born and spent his 20’s and 30’s in Germany, got his MBA at Bond Uni Australia, then settled in Vietnam in his 40’s, and made his late entry into entrepreneurship in his 50’s

 

According to Fintechnews Singapore

Banking in Vietnam had stood in place for decades before it’s moved to a new stage of Internet banking. For the first time ever, Vietnam has its first Digital Bank.

First Mobile-Only Bank in Vietnam — Timo

Timo stands for TIME & MONEY, which serves for the right purpose of the product: saving time on many transactions and payments, instead of being tired queuing at the banks or logging with several different internet banking systems.

On August 4th, 2015, the National Bank of Vietnam had confirmed that Vietnam Prosperity (VP Bank) bank had registered to issue a new debit card named TIMO — a new generation of Banking in Vietnam, aims to support locals and expatriates in managing their money in their way wherever and whenever.

The first Digital Banking for Vietnam— TIMO has launched recently which gives users a better solution to manage their money, bills and even top up mobile cards. However, alike many other Internet Banking services on PC and Smartphone, what makes TIMO a phenomenon? To study about TIMO in detail, let’s start step by step.

Testing out the Timo website and app

First of all, take a glimpse at their website here:

Click: “Join TIMO now”. Hence follow the guidance till you receive an email from TIMO team with an invite link to join them. After the completion of the online registration, TCR (TIMO Care Representative) will give you a call. Then you need to visit their TIMO Hangout  to open an account and active your debit card.

“Timo confirmed versus Fintechnews to have already 56,000 users on the waiting list.”

Secondly, once you arrive at TIMO hangout, it’s likely a place to hang out more than a bank office, where can even be an ideal place to meet friends or to work.

Timo Hangout

                                                                               Timo Hangout

A free drink will be served when you first come to open account and later you get  50% discount on the menu as Timo member. Whilst enjoying your drink, TCR will explain, demonstrate and answer all your questions.

The third step, download and try out the Timo app. In general it seems much easier to use than other Internet banking or wallet apps.

Timo supplies three main accounts with their own missions, and can be use by one easy finger-swiping on your device.

  Spend account function by swiping to the left or the right

                                         Spend account function by swiping to the left or the right

Spend account connects with your debit card to transfer money within wide range of banks, to pay bills such as electricity, Internet, Cable (TV), or either top-up your phone,all free of charge.

                                                                Goal save account: to manage your goals

Goal save account offers its users the interest rate of 1%/year and  will be paid monthly.

                                            Term deposit account offers a competitive interest rate in VND

Term deposit account  is the best option for people who aren’t good at saving their money. Timo offers a competitive interest rate up to 6,8% for a 12-month deposit. Once you choose to open a term deposit account, Timo app automatically asks the holder to divide the amount up to 4 parts. This makes sure that in case you need money you still can benefit on the other parts from the high interest rate.

Other benefits that Timo offers

  • More than 17,000 ATMs to serve Timo debit cards free of charge.
  • Free transferring out from Timo account to any other Vietnam bank accounts.
  • Free cash in and withdraw from any VP banks in Ho Chi Minh.
  • Free of charge withdrawing up to 20 million VND at Timo Hangout.

And a lot more to be discovered with Timo.

Who can open a Timo account? 

Everyone who has an ID/passport, an email address, a Vietnamese phone number and a smartphone that can connect to internet. This is also a great opportunity for expatriates who doesn’t want to have any obstacle while opening a bank account in Vietnam.

Nevertheless, Timo still needs to improve some parts.

  • It isn’t 100% Digital Banking, as people need to visit the Timo Hangout to open an account.  This is due to KYC Banking regulation in Vietnam.
  • For any adjustment or changing based on your account, you need to show up at their office as well.
  • Clients with an active VP account need to discuss further with TCR due to their terms and conditions.
  • Timo let you pay only a selection of invoice. For example in Cable (TV), they are only connected with VTV, not yet SCTV.

Conclusion

For people who faced quite enough issues with banking, it’s worth a try to open a Timo account. Prior to its advantages and the great support from its staff Timo app is easy to use and easy to manage. So it’s time to save your time and money to enjoy a better UX and better experience. 56,000 potential customers are already on the Timo waiting list, let’s see if Timo is able to onboard them all.

According to Fintechnews Singapore

It’s possible to make retail banking hip and cool, and a Vietnamese start-up called Timo is out to prove this with a latte.

Timo stands for “time is money.” It’s a digital bank with no paperwork, no queues and no branches – sort of. Its only physical presence is a modern cafe in the middle of Ho Chi Minh City called the “Timo Hangout.”

Here’s how it works: Customers walk into this café and hear the espresso machines humming. They can choose to sit and surf the internet or they can agree to listen to a soft sales pitch as they sip their free cup of coffee.

In what aims to be a relaxed setting, a Timo staff member uses an iPad to explain the digital bank’s products, such as its spending account, a “goal save” account or term deposits. Timo opens new accounts with zero deposit and offers an app customers can use to track their transactions.

Timo co-founder and chief executive Claude Spiese explains ” We don’t talk product, we don’t talk interest rates. We talk about lifestyle. We talk about people having fun.”

German-born Spiese, who has lived and worked in Vietnam for 20 years, is a former software consultant who has carefully studied the habits of Vietnamese consumers.

“We found they have lots of bank accounts; if there’s a new promotion or product, they’ll open another account,” Spiese says. “There’s not much loyalty, so our challenge is, how do we get that loyalty? It’s not through competing on 1 percent interest on products. It’s on lifestyle.”

Digital banking is still a nascent industry in Vietnam. As a digital operation that opened in January, Timo doesn’t have an actual banking license. So Spiese approached bricks and mortar retail bank, VP Bank, to be its digital arm.

“We said ‘We’ll pay for everything, we’ll finance the entire digital front end’,” Spiese says. He was armed with $5 million in seed capital from private investors. “You cover the cost of the back end which you have already built, and we split the profit from all the Timo customers fifty-fifty, a very simple deal. It’s been a great partnership.”

The Timo soft-sell has so far attracted almost 4,000 customers.

Credit: Pauline Chou
Customers sit and enjoy free coffee and Internet access inside Timo Hangout, where Timo staff members explain the digital bank’s products.

Vietnam’s population is young and increasingly plugged in. With a population of 90 million, Vietnam has a median age of 30 so millennials make up a growing portion of the country’s rich consumption story.

Former model and actor Tong Nguyen knew he was onto something a decade ago when he started a chat forum for teenagers. He quickly amassed a huge following. He then converted the forum into an entertainment content website called Yeah1!.

Today, Yeah 1! is Vietnam’s most popular media and entertainment website, tracking more than 1.3 billion views per month. The company creates its own content and carries outside content on more than 1,000 channels. It is also one of two MCNs (multi-channel networks) in Vietnam that are official partners with YouTube.

Sixty percent of the website’s user base is aged between 15 and 25 and they’re hungry for comedy, which is viewers’ top pick, followed by music and children’s content.

“My target is to build this into a billion-dollar company in five years,” says Nguyen.

While Yeah1! is currently valued at $70 million, Nguyen has reason to be optimistic. The company’s revenues and profits have doubled every year in the past five years. The next step is to grow outside of Vietnam, so Yeah1! is looking to expand into Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Philippines by becoming an official MCN in those markets and offering local-language content.

DFJ VinaCapital invested $1.4 million in Yeah1! about eight years ago.

“The timing was right because the government was just starting to liberalize the media sector to allow private companies to create content,” says Phuc Than, managing director of DFJ VinaCapital, a Vietnam-focused venture capital fund. Prior to this, only state –owned enterprises in communist Vietnam could create content.

Phuc Than calls himself the “gray hair” in the room. Born in Vietnam, he immigrated to the U.S. as a teenager when the Vietnam War ended, then worked at Intel as an engineer before returning to Vietnam in 2000 as Intel’s country manager.

Now, as managing director of DFJ VinaCapital, he looks for investment opportunities in Vietnamese tech start-ups and is particularly focused on the mindset of the start-up’s founder.

“One of the common mistakes of Vietnamese entrepreneurs is they see everything as an opportunity,” says Than. “They might have a core business but then they spread themselves too thin. Having a corporate background, I can help balance out their enthusiasm.”

Than says he’s currently seeing innovation in Vietnam’s fintech, travel tech and the Internet of Things sectors.

“We are now seeing a new wave of companies in these sectors addressing the local market,” he says.

Real estate is one sector where he sees a huge tech opportunity.

“There’s a booming real estate scene in Vietnam but no good real estate data companies like Zillow or Redfin in the U.S.,” he observes. “That market is tough to crack.”

According to CNBC