Viet Nam News
HCM CITY — Lì xì or giving lucky money is the most anticipated of customs, especially by children during the Lunar New Year festival (Tết).
It is believed “lì xì”, usually of small face value cash presented in a red envelop, can bring good luck, health and happiness for the recipients.
With Tết just around the corner, many locals have already begun their hunt for new banknotes to be used as lucky money.
Dương, a resident from HCM City’s Bình Thạnh District, visited a currency exchange on Cao Thắng Street in District 10 as he wanted to change VNĐ2,000 and VNĐ5,000 paper notes.
The store charges 12 per cent for VNĐ2,000 and 10 per cent for VNĐ5,000, he said. It means the smaller the denomination, the higher the “service charge”.
Hải, another customer, said he has contacted a shop on Bắc Hải Street in District 10 and was told it had ran out small denominations like VNĐ500 and VNĐ1,000.
According to Hải, due to its scarcity, the charge for VNĐ500 denomination is up to 270 per cent, meaning that in order to exchange VNĐ500,000 (US$21.5) for VNĐ500 notes, customers would have to pay VNĐ1.35 million ($58). The fee is 13 per cent for VNĐ1,000 notes and 4-10 per cent for denominations range from VNĐ2,000 to VNĐ500,000.
“Those who want to exchange several hundred millions of Vietnamese đồng should contact with the shop early because there is a supply shortage of new banknotes as the Tết draw closer ” an owner of a currency shop told Thanh niên (Young people) newspaper.
The owners also said they would offer 1 per cent discount for customers who visit the shop.
On online currency exchange websites, new banknotes available in all face values are offered in exchange for a fee of 5-15 per cent, with 300 per cent for VNĐ500 as an exception.
Apart from local currency bills, unique banknotes and fake dollars featuring imprinted pig, the upcoming lunar year’s zodiac animal, are on sale.
To exchange for the $2 notes, buyers must pay VNĐ54,000.
The gold plated $2 notes with the image of the dog are selling for VNĐ350,000 while the Australia gold and silver plated coins sell for VNĐ300,000.
To meet the demand for new small denominations, the money exchange service offered in Đồng Nai Province has become hectic.
Currency shops were reported to charge 10-15 per cent for its service. A lot of advertisements relating to new banknotes exchange were seen in around Tân Hiệp market in Biên Hòa City’s Tân Hiệp Ward. Such words as “exchange money”, “change new banknotes” or “change money with all kinds of denominations” were written on paper covered or sticks on styrofoam boxes to inform customers.
A service provider at the market said he has a lot of new banknotes in all face value and can meet all the customers’ demand.
According to Nguyễn Hoàng Minh, deputy director of the HCM City branch of the State Bank of Việt Nam, the people’s demand for “lucky money” is understandable but the essential task for banks was securing the supply of cash for Tết.
Minh said the number newly printed banknotes are limited to save money.
Earlier in January, the central bank announced the stop in the introduction of small denominations had helped save VNĐ280 billion for State budget.
Last year was the fifth consecutive year the bank has not printed new small notes.
In accordance with Government Decree 96 issued in 2014 stipulating on administrative fines on currency and finance sector, the act of exchanging old banknotes for new ones at a profit is illegal. Accordingly, anyone engaging in illegal exchange would be fined VNĐ20-40 million. — VNS