ASEAN 5 Prepares for Integrated Payment System

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SINGAPORE – The five largest members of ASEAN – Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Thailand – have agreed to implement an integrated payment system to enable real time gross settlement (RTGS) systems to be in effect by next year.

“With this system, a bank customer can carry out multi-currency transactions in minutes through non-cash payments,” said Rosmaya Hadi with Bank Indonesia.

The ASEAN 5 Central Banks are currently working on establishing protocols for intra-trade settlement, retail payments, monthly remittances, capital market settlements and standardization to enable the system to be up and running by the time the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) unification occurs next January.

“When the AEC commences, ASEAN member countries will have greater need for an integrated payment system as people from across the region will have to carry out transactions from and to their home countries,” according to Deputy Trade Minister Bayu Krisnamurthi.

Under the system, individual users across ASEAN will be able to make financial payments through ATMs, credit cards, or electronic money without spending a significant amount of time or money doing so. As ASEAN currently has no plan to establish a unified currency, this program is expected to increase multi-currency transactions.

ASEAN members are also developing their ATM networks; Indonesia, for example, has an ATM reach of 20 percent of its total working population of 150 million, compared with 66 per cent for Malaysia.

Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand are currently the only ASEAN members to have full ATM integration according to the Asian Development Bank. This will soon change as the other ASEAN member nations work towards greater integration.

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