Travel TechnologyTravellers can soon scan QR codes to pay for trips and bypass the rising US currency across five Southeast Asian countries.

Scan to pay makes travel a lot easier in Southeast Asia

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Travellers from Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines have an easier and cheaper solution now to pay for products within each other’s countries.
Travellers from Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines have an easier and cheaper solution now to pay for products within each other’s countries. Photo Credit: GettyImages/Nopphon Pattanasri

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 Bloomberg.

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.

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