Laos, Brunei Join ASEAN Payments Alliance

April 5, 2024
The central banks of Laos and Brunei have joined the Regional Payment Connectivity Initiative, run by the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The central banks of Laos and Brunei have joined the Regional Payment Connectivity Initiative (RPC), run by the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Laos also signed a bilateral deal with Thailand on March 14 ensuring interoperable cross-border QR code payments. 

The Brunei Darussalam Central Bank (BDCB) and Bank of the Lao PDR (BoL) joined the RPC on April 3, they said in a statement, bringing its membership to eight. The initiative was created in late 2022 by Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand; Vietnam joined in August 2023.

The central banks hope to extend RPC membership to the two remaining ASEAN countries, Cambodia and Myanmar, and have also suggested it could go beyond just them. 

The RPC aims to promote faster, cheaper, more transparent and more inclusive cross-border payments in the region. It has strengthened the central banks’ ability to develop payment connectivity in the region through, among other things, QR code-based payment and fast payment modalities. 

The regional effort also helps small and medium-sized enterprises access international markets, facilitates trade, and smooths worker remittance transactions.

Joining the RPC “will serve as a means to facilitate further trade, investments, and economic activities within the region and further foster close collaboration with fellow central banks”, said Hajah Rokiah binti Haji Badar, managing director of BDCB.

BoL governor Bounleua Xinxayvoravong also welcomed the agreement, describing it as a significant move toward enhancing future ASEAN regional cooperation.

“Faster and cheaper financial transactions as well as a secure and seamless payment system infrastructure will support the expansion and sustainability of our economy.”

Laos-Thailand deal

In March, representatives from the Thai Bankers Association and directors of National ITMX Company Limited, as well as Lao National Payment Network Company Limited, signed a new agreement to allow for cross-border QR services. 

This took effect on April 3, and is the eighth deal that Thailand has signed with nearby jurisdictions such as Japan, Singapore and Indonesia. 

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