Where Midas is welcome
Despite the increasing popularity of credit card and internet banking, Vietnam is still a cash economy in general. Most of the transactions are in cash and even for such big things as a car or a house, payment is usually made in cash, and onetime. The concept of mortgage is quite new to most people. Only those who works in big cities with stable and official incomes (mainly the white collar) can apply for mortgage. So unlike in many Western countries, most of your Vietnamese friends and co-workers are likely debt-free. That can be, ironically, considered as one "positive" side about the immaturity of our credit system.
Many Vietnamese still pay for real estate in cash
Generally speaking, social welfare (healthcare, unemployment allowance, retirement allowance, etc.) in Vietnam is not very good and reliable, so most people do not rely on it. Basically everyone needs to save money for their retirement or for such difficult time as illness or unemployment. But how do Vietnamese people save and invest money? Besides such common channels as saving bank account, real estate, stock market or mutual fund, many Vietnamese, especially the old generation, prefer to keep gold as their savings. According public news, Vietnamese individuals privately hold some 300-400 tons of gold. This can be explained by either a traditional habit, the lack of trust in the economy or the unfamiliarity with modern channels of investment.
SJC is the most famous brand name for gold in Vietnam. Each "piece" of gold (or "lượng" in Vietnamese) has a weight of 37.5 grams.
One interesting thing to know here is that people in the North of Vietnam are usually more provident than those in the South. This may be explained by the different in the living environments between the two areas. Most land in the North is less fertile than in the South, which used to make food scarcity an issue in the past. The cold winter in the North also requires people to have a proper house whereas in the South you can basically survive without one. So generally speaking, due to the fact that the living environment is tougher, people in the North of Vietnam tends to be more provident than those in the South.
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