Five of the biggest Southeast Asian economies — Singapore, Malaysia,
Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines — will allow travellers from
select countries to pay for purchases which directly converts the
destination’s currency to their own.
This initiative was launched by the central banks of the five
countries, which agreed to link their payment systems by November this
year, allowing for easier transactions while bypassing the need to use
the rising US dollar as intermediary currency.
This agreement would link all the five countries that previously
already had two separate interconnected systems. The previous
interconnected systems comprised one between Singapore and Thailand, and
another between Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.
Singapore had first enabled cross-border QR transactions with
Thailand in 2019, in a partnership between Singapore-based fintech
startup Liquid Group and Thailand’s Siam Commercial Bank. This allowed
Thai travellers the convenience of paying pay for products and services
in Singapore using their own Thai QR payment apps.
Ravi Menon, managing director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore,
believes that the new payment functions establishes a “good public
infrastructure which improves financial inclusion, enhances efficiency,
and creates new business opportunities for all citizens,” as reported by
There are more future developments in the works to further enhance
cross-border transactions between the five central banks. They are now
looking to link the network up with other banks around the world,
potentially expanding the network to real time bank transfers and
central bank digital currencies.