Central banks in five SE Asian countries to create common contactless QR payments zone

The central banks of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand are to develop an interoperable cross-border payments system that will enable residents of each country to use their mobile banking app to make QR code-based payments for goods and services when visiting any of the other territories.

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The integrated system will enable visitors to another of the participating countries to make transactions in local currency that will then be settled in their own without having to be exchanged via an intermediary currency such as the US dollar.

Bank Indonesia, Bank Negara Malaysia, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, the Monetary Authority of Singapore and the Bank of Thailand announced that they are preparing to sign a general agreement on payment connectivity that will establish a framework for the system later this year at a seminar during a meeting of G20 finance ministers and central governors in Bali.

“Several countries in the ASEAN region are implementing bilateral cooperation for payment services using QR code and fast payments based on local currency settlement (LCS),” Bank Indonesia says. 

“Moving forward, Bank Indonesia acknowledges an opportunity to expand existing bilateral cooperation for payment connectivity in ASEAN multilaterally as part of the efforts to strengthen economic integration in the region. 

“Collaboration is the key for the initiatives to accelerate economic recovery and financial integration for the benefit of the community, especially MSMEs, migrant workers and tourists, inclusively.”

Bank Negara Malaysia and the Bank of Thailand rolled out real-time cross-border QR payments between the two countries in June 2021.

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