Brunei sees acceleration of fintech products, services

Deputy Minister of Finance and Economy (Economy) at the Ministry of Finance and Economy Dato Seri Paduka Haji Khairuddin bin Haji Abdul Hamid delivers his keynote address.

The Sultanate has observed an acceleration of fintech products and services, such as digital insurance products allowing customers to purchase insurance directly from mobile applications and a greater adoption of mobile payments for everyday utilities, bills and
other transactions. 

Deputy Minister of Finance and Economy (Economy) at the Ministry of Finance and Economy Dato Seri Paduka Haji Khairuddin bin Haji Abdul Hamid said this in his keynote address at the Britain Brunei Business Forum (BBBF) ‘Brunei’s Fintech Future’ at the Radisson Hotel yesterday.

“Fintech is also transforming the public sector, with cashless payments being featured in e-Darussalam for services such as vehicle licence renewal. Fintech has also facilitated entrepreneurship, allowing small businesses to set up without the need for major financial infrastructure investments thanks to mobile banking services,” he added.

“More businesses are accepting cashless payments beyond debit and credit cards, such as Quick Pay, Progresif Pay and Pocket.”

Brunei has invested efforts in modernising the national payment systems starting with the establishment of Real-Time Gross Settlement Systems (RTGS) and Automated Clearing House (ACH) in 2014 and 2016.

One initiative being undertaken is The Digital Payment Hub, a flagship project of the Digital Economy Council and a joint initiative between Darussalam Assets Sdn Bhd and local banks. Upon its implementation, instant fund transfers between banks will be made available, unlocking significant socio-economic benefits such as improved business productivity, cost effectiveness, financial technology and innovation and addressing the needs of the unbanked. 

Alongside an Instant Payment System, a National QR Code will be rolled out to elevate the experience of making digital payments. 

Additionally, the consortium will introduce features such as request to pay, fund transfers from e-wallets to bank accounts and more. 

The deputy minister added that in the medium term, the initiative will enable cross-border interoperability, allowing cross border fund transfers to be done in an instant and cost-efficient manner. 

In further promoting innovation in the financial landscape, the FinTech Regulatory Sandbox was introduced in 2017. Over half of the Sandbox applicants comprised of companies offering payment solutions including cross border payments. The Sandbox is an ongoing initiative open for interested businesses to participate. Such endeavour has clearly been well-received with the value of digital payment transactions in the country observed to have risen by 87.8 per cent in the last five years.

The Brunei Darussalam Central Bank (BDCB) plays an important role in facilitating such progress through not only developmental strategies but also by ensuring the safety and soundness of digital payment products and services. One of the central bank’s statutory objectives is to assist in the establishment and functioning of efficient payment systems guided by a framework that balances the safeguarding of users, while ensuring a level playing field for providers and the management of risks associated. 

It also aims to ensure that the framework adopted will be aligned to international benchmarks as well as the nation’s developmental goals. 

Various other progresses have been made to strengthen the fintech ecosystem including the soon-to-be established FinTech Association and Brunei Darussalam’s entry into the Global Financial Innovation Network which would broaden the partnerships and possibilities for local fintech developers to establish connections with international fintech players and markets.

British High Commissioner to Brunei Darussalam John Virgoe also attended the event. 

BBBF Chair Siva Subramaniam said, “The BBBF is delighted to host a thought leadership event for its members and guests touching on topics and moving business trends central to the way we do business in this day and age.”

The programme also featured a panel discussion with speakers – Standard Chartered Bank Brunei CEO Pengiran Aki Ismasufian bin Pengiran Haji Ibrahim; State Street Digital Singapore Vice President Irfan Syed Ahmad; Vice President, institutional Services, State Street Brunei Edmund Teo; Beep Digital Solutions Sdn Bhd founder and Director Denny Muslim; and Vice President, IT Digital and innovation at DST Andy Lai. It was moderated by BBBF Executive Committee member and Director ASEAN & Corporate Affairs at the UK-ASEAN Business Council Allen Lai.

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