Platforms Featured Southeast Asia

Monetary Authority of Singapore, Bank Indonesia to commence cross-border QR payment linkage

Singapore – The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and Bank Indonesia (BI) have announced plans to commence work on cross-border QR payment linkage between Indonesia and Singapore as part of the ASEAN-wide payments connectivity effort. The linkage is targeted to be launched in the second half of 2023.

The linkage allows users to make instant, secure, and efficient retail payments by scanning the Quick Response Code Indonesian Standard (QRIS) or NETS QR codes displayed by merchants.

In addition, the payment connectivity between Indonesia and Singapore will empower individuals and businesses, particularly micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), to conduct their cross-border trade, e-commerce, and financial activities efficiently.

BI and MAS also signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) today to promote the use of local currencies in bilateral transactions such as trade and direct investments. This is in line with ASEAN financial integration efforts to facilitate the wider use of local currencies in intra-ASEAN trade and investment settlement. This can help businesses reduce their exposure to exchange rate risks and costs of conducting bilateral transactions.

Ravi Menon, managing director of MAS, said, “The QRIS-NETS QR code payments connectivity is a milestone in ASEAN’s goal to establish regional payments integration by 2025 and support the vibrant cross-border trade corridors within the region. This linkage also aligns with the G20’s efforts to address existing frictions in global cross-border payments and support post-pandemic economic recovery and growth.” 

He added, “The MOU to promote the use of local currencies for bilateral transactions complements the QRIS-NETS QR code payments connectivity as it will further facilitate the settlement of bilateral transactions between Singapore and Indonesia in their respective local currencies.”

Meanwhile, Perry Warjiyo, governor of BI, said on this occasion, “During Indonesia’s G20 Presidency in 2022 and ASEAN Central Bank Governors’ Meeting in April 2022, payment digitalisation and cross-border payments have become a priority agenda. This initiative links cross-border payments through the interconnection of national QR codes of payment between two countries, represents another milestone of the Indonesian Payment System Blueprint 2025, and also integrates with the framework to promote the use of local currencies.” 

He added, “It provides more options for users in cross-border payment transactions and serves as a key to improving transaction efficiency, promoting digital economic and financial inclusion, and strengthening macroeconomic stability by promoting more extensive use of local currencies for bilateral transactions. Bank Indonesia believes that the initiatives mark a key milestone in strengthening bilateral financial cooperation between Singapore and Indonesia.” 

Technology Featured South Asia

India, Bhutan partner to launch cross-border QR code payment scheme

India — The National Payment Corporation of India in collaboration with the Royal Monetary Authority of Bhutan has launched the third phase of the cross-border interoperable QR code payment linkage project between Bhutan and India.

The project is in continuation to the launch of RuPay, an Indian multinational financial services and payment system, in 2019 whose proponents include the Honorable Prime Minister of India, His Excellency Shri Narendra Modi, and the Honorable Prime Minister of Bhutan, His Excellency Dr Lotay Tshering.

Initiated on 20 March 2021, the project was formally launched by Her Excellency Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman, the Honorable Finance Minister of India, and His Excellency Namgay Tshering, the Honorable Finance Minister of Bhutan on 13th July 2021. This linkage marks another milestone between the two countries relationship as they venture into digital payment space, deepen their financial ties, and create convenience through the provisioning of payment infrastructure between the citizens of India and Bhutan. 

With the linkage, Indian citizens will henceforth be able to make instant and secure QR code payments using their smart mobile phones at any retail and major service provider outlets in Bhutan, thereby making payments much more accessible. A total of 182 banks in India provide QR code payment services through their respective mobile applications, accounting for up to 170.76 million users on Android and 3.61 million users on iOS.

The general acceptability of Bhutan QR code payments, as a safe alternative to cash or other means of payments, have surged during the Covid-19 pandemic, with QR code payments increasing 300 percent since July 2020 and QR code adoption has risen over 90 percent. A total of 23,792 merchants in Bhutan accept QR code payments and 356,157 users have registered for QR code payments, indicative of peoples’ growing preference for cashless transactions. The benefits of the QR code payment thus far have been numerous, including that of consumer convenience and reductions of costs for both customers and banks.

Through the collaborative effort by the two countries of harnessing financial technologies, the project is expected to ease the quality of regional and international payments of citizens through a safe and secure cross-border QR payment system.