The Autoriti Monetari Brunei Darussalam (AMBD) will be releasing a White Paper on The State of FinTech (Financial Technology) in Brunei Darussalam, which will contain recommendations on progressing the development of the FinTech ecosystem in the sultanate. 

This was revealed by the Minister of Home Affairs, Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Hj Awg Abu Bakar Hj Apong in his capacity as the Deputy Chairman of AMBD’s Board of Directors during the World FinTech Festival (WFF) held at The Empire Brunei on Wednesday.

Image: Wardi Wasil
Image: Wardi Wasil

During his keynote address titled Financial Technology (FinTech): A Fundamental Building Block of a Digital Economy, YB Pehin Hj Abu Bakar outlined three major recommendations of the White Paper, including the need to provide an attractive and favourable regulatory environment for FinTech in Brunei. 

He explained that AMBD will work on providing certainty around key FinTech areas such as E-KYC (Electronic know-your-customer) and digital banking. 

“Recognising that no regulatory framework should be static (and) AMBD will keep an open mind in the development of a future-proof regulatory framework, to ensure it encourages the adoption of new technologies while taking into account emerging threats,” he said. 

The second recommendation is to ensure that Brunei Darussalam’s payment and digital infrastructures are future-ready, which will see AMBD working with the industry to develop a shared ‘Digital Payment Hub’. 

Image: Wardi Wasil

This hub, according to the minister, will centralise digital transactions and facilitate instant payments where all Payment Service Providers (PSPs) will be connected in real-time to support an open, competitive market. 

“The Hub will allow digital payments to be made through various use-cases such as at physical point-of-sale and in e-commerce applications,” he added. 

Image: Wardi Wasil

Meanwhile, the third recommendation will look into the establishment of the Brunei Darussalam FinTech Association, which can act as a networking platform to centralise all FinTech related activities within the country and to forge MoUs with other FinTech hubs. 

“This would also encourage collaborations amongst stakeholders in developing tailored approaches which are most appropriate in the local context through experimentation and adaptation of frameworks and best practices,” continued YB Pehin Hj Abu Bakar. 

The minister then reiterated AMBD’s commitment towards nurturing the FinTech ecosystem in Brunei Darussalam, noting the central bank’s introduction of the FinTech Regulatory Sandbox which provides participants, especially start-ups, a safe and secure environment to test and experiment with their FinTech solutions.

“Though small, the local FinTech market has been steadfastly responding to new customer demands and expectations. Consumers are also getting more comfortable dealing with online financial transactions,” he explained. 

With this, YB Pehin Hj Abu Bakar also revealed that AMBD has upgraded the current FinTech Regulatory Sandbox to the FinTech Regulatory Sandbox 2.0, where the application process has been streamlined to reduce the application assessment time.

Image: Wardi Wasil

Touching on the rapid digitisation of the sultanate due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the sultanate was presented with “a silver lining” despite the outbreak’s disruptive nature, which gave rise to greater creativity and innovation among public and private entities. 

Image: Wardi Wasil

“This is in line with and has intensified the country’s pursuit of becoming a Smart Nation, driven by a Digital Government, Digital Society and Digital Economy, as outlined under the Digital Economy Masterplan 2025 rolled out in June 2020,” he continued. 

“As we transition towards a more digitally-driven economy, we must be mindful to not leave anyone behind,” he went on to say, adding that efforts must be done to ensure “everyone is well insulated against technological risks while narrowing the digital divide by improving digital accessibility and literacy”. 

In conclusion, YB Pehin Hj Abu Bakar believed that there are “enormous” benefits that can be reaped from FinTech, as technology remains a core driver of change in all aspects of life, with or without the current global crisis. 

“Indeed, lessons can be drawn from the crisis. It has shown us that FinTech is not just about technology,” he continued. 

Image: Wardi Wasil

“It solves real problems, from increasing access to finance and empowering consumers and small and micro-businesses by introducing alternative sources of financing and payment methods, to being a solution in our fight against greater adversities such as climate change,” he added. 

The World FinTech Festival was organised by the Centre For Islamic Banking, Finance And Management (CIBFM), with the support of AMBD as part of the Singapore FinTech Festival (SFF) 2020.

Image: Wardi Wasil

This article was first published on December 12, 2020 in our Weekly E-Paper issue 119

The Bruneian  | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN 

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