The scene is repeated several times a day outside Vietnamese banks: Satchel-toting couriers cart away bundles of the country's currency - the dong - in bags flung over their shoulders or strapped to the seats of motorbikes.

Given the low value of the dong, piles of paper money are needed for routine purchases. Small boys peddling goods on the streets of Hanoi look like barons as they produce thick wads of cash to make change.

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