Singapore and Indonesia on Friday (Nov 17) announced the launch of a cross-border QR code payment linkage.
The linkage will allow customers of participating financial institutions in the two countries to make retail payments by scanning QR codes, Bank Indonesia (BI) and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said in a joint media release.
MAS and Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM), meanwhile, have launched a real-time payment systems linkage between Singapore’s PayNow and Malaysia’s DuitNow.
The move will allow for instant, secure and cost-effective person-to-person funds transfers and remittances between the two countries, MAS and BNM said in a separate joint release.
The links were launched at the Singapore FinTech Festival by MAS managing director Ravi Menon and his Indonesian and Malaysian counterparts.
The launch of cross-border QR payments between Indonesia and Singapore comes a year after BI and MAS announced that a linkage was in the works.
To make payments, customers simply have to use their existing mobile banking applications to scan QRIS (Quick Response Code Indonesian Standard) or NETS QR codes displayed by merchants in Indonesia and Singapore respectively.
“This cross-border QR payment linkage is a significant milestone in the efforts by BI and MAS to promote greater integration of the digital economy and financial ecosystem, as well as to boost economic connectivity between Indonesia and Singapore,” the central banks said.
“With greater payment convenience, this linkage can enable micro and small businesses to tap into a new pool of customers in each other’s economies.”
Pointing to the post-pandemic rebound in the number of tourists travelling between the two countries – 600,000 arrivals in Indonesia from Singapore and 1.1 million arrivals in Singapore from Indonesia in the first half of the year – BI and MAS said the payment linkage would “benefit a significant number of travellers”.
The financial institutions from Singapore participating in the linkage are OCBC and UOB, with DBS expected to join them at a later stage.
The participating financial institutions from Indonesia are: Bank Central Asia, Bank Mega, Bank Pembangunan Daerah Bali, Bank Rakyat Indonesia, Bank Sinarmas, Bank Syariah Indonesia, CIMB Niaga, Espay Debit Indonesia Koe, Netzme Kreasi Indonesia and PermataBank.
BI governor Perry Warjiyo said that the linkage “will promote faster, cheaper, more transparent and more inclusive cross-border payments”, noting that it is in line with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) goal of boosting regional payment connectivity.
Mr Menon added: “The QRIS-NETS QR payment linkage will promote cross-border e-commerce activities and tourism spending across Singapore and Indonesia, by individuals and small businesses.”
DIRECT TRANSFERS ENABLED BETWEEN MALAYSIA AND SINGAPORE
In March, Malaysia and Singapore launched a QR code payment linkage which enabled customers to make cross-border payments to merchants using Singapore’s PayNow and Malaysia’s DuitNow.
On Friday, MAS and BNM announced that users of these payment services would now be able to make person-to-person cross-border funds transfers using mobile numbers and virtual payment addresses.
Customers of participating financial institutions can send and receive up to S$1,000 (US$744) or RM3,000 in this manner daily.
“The PayNow-DuitNow linkage enables instant, secure and cost-effective person-to-person fund transfers and remittances between the two countries,” MAS and BNM said.
“This real-time payment systems linkage is also the first to include the participation of non-bank financial institutions from both countries, providing access to a broader group of users.”
The participants from Singapore are Liquid Group, Maybank Singapore, OCBC and UOB, while the participants from Malaysia are CIMB, Maybank and TNG Digital. They will eventually be joined by Singapore’s DBS and Malaysia’s Hong Leong Bank.
MAS and BNM described the linkage as “an important milestone in improving the cost, speed, access and transparency of cross-border payments”.
According to the central banks, S$2.3 billion in person-to-person and remittance transactions were made between the two countries last year.
“The PayNow-DuitNow linkage is the culmination of a shared aspiration by Singapore and Malaysia to facilitate cross-border payments between the two countries,” Mr Menon said.
“This linkage represents another step towards ASEAN’s vision for regional payments interconnectivity.”
BNM governor Abdul Rasheed Ghaffour added: “Cross-border payments that are fast, secure and cost-efficient can provide immense benefits, especially for individuals and small businesses in countries with very close economic ties such as Malaysia and Singapore.
“The PayNow-DuitNow linkage enables us to reap these benefits towards our shared growth and prosperity while laying the foundations for scalable cross-border payment networks across and beyond ASEAN.”
LOCAL CURRENCY FRAMEWORK
In their joint statement, BI and MAS also said that they had signed a letter of intent to “establish a local currency settlement framework”.
When operational in 2024, the framework will facilitate the settlement of cross-border payments, including QR payments, trade and investments between Indonesia and Singapore in their respective local currencies.
“This will help businesses and other users reduce their exposure to exchange rate risks and costs,” said BI and MAS.
The letter of intent follows the signing of a memorandum of understanding in August 2022 on a framework for cooperation to promote bilateral transactions in local currency by both central banks, in line with ASEAN efforts to facilitate the wider use of local currencies in intra-bloc transactions.
In 2022, the central banks of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Singapore agreed to strengthen and enhance cooperation on payment connectivity. Earlier this year, Vietnam’s central bank signed an agreement to join them.
After the implementation of the local currency framework, the cross-border QR payment linkage initiative will use direct quotations of local currency exchange rates provided by Appointed Cross Currency Dealer (ACCD) banks, said Mr Warjiyo.
Mr Menon said that the framework will complement the payment linkage.
“These initiatives mark another milestone for Singapore’s growing cross-border payments linkages with key regional economies,” he added.