Vietnamese banks are cashing in on consumers’ appetites to possess “lucky” numbers in everything from car licence plates to mobile phone numbers by selling off account numbers that are considered propitious.

Those ending in numbers such as 666, 888, 6868, 7979, 3939, 33333, 222222 and 111111 are believed to bring prosperity and luck to the owner, according to Tuoi Tre News.

While bank account numbers are normally assigned randomly by software, VIP account holders have been allowed to bypass this process and choose their own number – “a perk that doesn’t cost anything”, one banker said.

But with some bank employees circumventing the system to sell “lucky” account numbers on the black market, banks have now decided to throw this perk open to a wider audience.

This comes at a price, but one that is cheaper than acquiring a number through unofficial channels.

At VPBank, for example, an account ending in a particular four-digit string of numbers can cost VND2 million ($86); the prices rises to VND5 million ($216) for a five-digit string and to VND10 million ($431) for a six-digit “prosperity” string.

Cheaper options are available at Ban Viet, which recently offered 1,000 ‘lucky account numbers’ for sale at prices starting at VND200,000 (US$8.63), but the actual price paid is agreed between the client and the bank, a Ban Viet representative said.

Individuals also offer lucky account numbers for sale on online forums, which may cost as much as VND65 million ($2,800) per number.

These prices pale into insignificance, however, when set alongside those that have been paid for some mobile phone numbers. In recent years, several have fetched upwards of $400,000 and in 2017 a celebrity model paid $664,000 for a particular number with the intention of reselling it for $886,000 and donating part of the proceeds to charity.

Many Chinese consumers are similarly intrigued by lucky numbers: only last week an “auspicious” mobile phone number sold for $52,000 in an online auction, although the most expensive recorded was $680,000 back in 2004, according to the South China Morning Post.

Sourced from Tuoi Tre News, VN Express, South China Morning Post; additional content by WARC staff