Financial Services Update: Leadership and Regulation Updates in Myanmar

Financial Services Update | August 30, 2017
Authors: Shay WesterIan Saccomanno, and Natalie McDaniel
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 
  • September 7-9- Mission to the ASEAN Economic Ministers' Mission (AEM)On September 7-9, the Council will mount its annual mission to the ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM) Meeting in Manila. As always, the Council delegation will meet with all ten trade Ministers as part of the official USTR-AEM Consultation, which will be led by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. Additionally, we will schedule bilateral meetings and other engagements throughout the Mission. Contact Matt Solomon at msolomon@usasean.org for more information.
  • September 26-28- 2017 Mission to the ASEAN Ministers on Energy Meeting (AMEM): The US-ASEAN Business Council is now registering senior-level executives for its Business Mission to the 35th ASEAN Ministers on Energy Meeting (AMEM) in Pasay, Metro Manila, from September 26-28. The mission schedule will consist of bilateral meetings with the ASEAN Energy Ministers, as well as relevant AMEM Dialogue Partners.  We are also attempting to organize a luncheon dialogue with the ASEAN Energy Ministers and the ASEAN Secretariat to discuss regional energy issues. Click here to register. 
  • September 28-29- Mission to the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Agriculture and Forestry (AMAF): The Council will be leading a business delegation to the 39th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Agriculture and Forestry (AMAF) in Chiang Mai, Thailand on September 28-29, 2017. This annual mission provides a platform for members to engage with the ten ministers of agriculture, senior agricultural officials, and the ASEAN Secretariat. Some key focus areas include Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs) and technology development in the agricultural sector. For more information, please contact Sunita Kapoor at skapoor@usasean.org.
  • October 12-13- Mission to the ASEAN Transport Ministers Meeting, SingaporePlease save the date for the US-ASEAN Business Council's second mission to the 23rd ASEAN Transport Ministers Meeting in Singapore on October 12-13, 2017. The Council has been invited to host the ten ASEAN Transport Ministers, Senior Transport Officials, and the Secretary General of ASEAN for a working luncheon. Bilateral meetings with priority countries will also be conducted. Official invitation with registration details to follow. Please contact Sunita Kapoor at skapoor@usasean.org and Jack Myint at jmyint@usasean.org with any questions or to express interest.  
  • October 17 - 18- Brunei Business Mission: Please save the date for the US-ASEAN Business Council's annual mission to Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei from October 17-18, 2017. The Council is currently developing proposals to engage the Government of Brunei on its priorities in an effort to diversify its economy, which will include the financial sector (electronic payments, insurance, banking and financial inclusion), ICT sector (digital economy, cyber security), and energy sector. If you would like to propose any ideas or if you have any questions, please contact Artha Sirait at asirait@usasean.org.
 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Leadership and Regulation Updates in Myanmar

On August 1, the Central Bank of Myanmar (CBM) appointed three new Deputy Governors: U Soe Thein, an economist and retired Budget Department official of the Ministry of Planning and Finance; incumbent Deputy Governor U Soe Min; and U Bo Bo Nge, who had previously been a member of the Board of Governors and is a veteran member of the NLD. New members of the Board include former Deputy Director General of the Union Attorney General’s Office U Myint Thein Tun, former finance Deputy General Manager U Soe Paing, former Director of the Union Attorney General Office Daw Yi Yi Win, and former Pro-Rector of the Yangon University of Economics Daw Khin May Hla. The fifth member, U Kyaw Min Tun, is an incumbent. Deputy Governor U Set Aung, who is widely known a key reformer from U Thein Sein’s government, was transferred to the Ministry of Planning and Finance. The changes occurred on schedule as the terms of the previous Deputy Governors and some board members expired at the end of July. Governor U Kyaw Kyaw Maung will remain in his position, indicating some amount of policy continuity between the two leadership teams as CBM begins implementing updated banking regulations.

Shortly before the staff changes, on July 14, CBM published updated bank regulations to conform with Basel II standards and Myanmar's 2016 Financial Institutions Law. Senior Advisor from Kanbawza Bank U Than Lwin explained that compliance with Basel II should reduce domestic risk. “Without such controls, if there are large amounts of loans, the risk is high for our banks. This is a good regulation as it is in line with international standards,” he added. The new regulation stipulates that all banks must maintain a liquidity ratio above 20 percent. In addition, a single loan cannot be more than 20 percent of shareholder equity, but state owned banks can be exempted. Unsecured transactions will be limited to 100 percent of core capital. Private banks will be given six months to comply with these regulations and in 2018 will be required to file monthly performance reports with CBM. The banking sector was previously regulated by provisions issued by the former military government in 1990. The reporting mandated by these reforms should improve transparency and diminish risk in the banking sector while the regulation brings the banking system's structure more in line with international risk management practices. While this is helpful from a development perspective and promotes greater resilience in the banking sector, both the U.S. government and the US business community continue to advocate for and to help Myanmar build capacity to adopt stronger governance related reforms in the financial sector, including anti-money laundering and know-your-customer procedure.

Alongside the CBM staff changes, on July 31, the Ministry of Planning and Finance announced that it would split its Deputy Minister role into two offices, where one will focus on economic planning and the other will cover financial policy. Former Deputy Central Bank Governor U Set Aung took the position of Deputy Minister of Planning and Finance for economic planning while U Maung Maung Win will lead the financial policy side. U Set Aung has emphasized the need to improve regulations and promote stronger corporate governance, including corporate transparency and merit-based competition. Overall, U Set Aung’s appointment can be considered a positive development for the private sector.

Indonesian House Approves Regulation Limiting Banking Secrecy
On July 27, the House of Representatives approved Government Regulation in Lieu of Law (Peraturan Pemerintah Pengganti Undang-Undang - PERPPU) No. 1 of 2017 (available here in Bahasa Indonesia) making permanent a key regulation for the government’s bank secrecy reforms. PERPPU No.1 grants Indonesia’s tax office access to financial information held by banks and other qualified institutions, requiring them to submit reports to the tax office “in line with standards of financial information exchanged based on the international agreement on taxation.” The rule was issued by President Joko Widodo on May 8 as a PERPPU, which is a regulation equivalent to a law that eventually requires legislative approval. Following consultations with the Finance Ministry, nine parties in the Finance Commission of the House of Representatives agreed to pass the regulation. The regulation will be the basis for the implementation of the Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI) that Indonesia, along with other G20 members, will adopt in 2018. Some House members who opposed to the regulation expressed concerns about data confidentiality. Finance Minister Sri Mulyani has said that she plans to issue a ministerial regulation on banking data protection that will include sanctions on the misuse of financial data. She also emphasized that Indonesia’s Tax Office will be targeting large accounts for investigations. More information about Indonesia’s bank secrecy reforms may be found here in the June 6 update.

Bank Indonesia Regulation on the National Payment Gateway
On June 22, Bank Indonesia promulgated Regulation No. 19 of 2017 (available here in Bahasa Indonesia) on the National Payment Gateway (NPG). The regulation is meant to improve connectivity between payments systems and lower transaction costs, but introduces new local processing requirements, caps the number of allowed payments companies, and introduces a 20 percent foreign investment cap for companies handling domestic payments. It had previously been reported that existing foreign investors would be grandfathered in and not subject to the 20 percent investment cap, but the provision was not in the final regulation. Head of Bank Indonesia Transformation Program Onny Widjanarko stated that “…international service providers have the choice of partnering with existing companies or forming joint ventures with 20 percent caps on their shareholdings.” Under the conditions established in this regulation, transactions with interoperable payment instruments will be required to be processed onshore, with the implementation for debit cards aimed for mid-2018 and for credit cards in 2019. The recently revealed draft regulation on over-the-top mobile services and the new e-commerce roadmap both also include mandates that digital retailers and services providers route their domestic transactions through the NPG. A new institution to oversee the NPG's implementation will be established in the next few months.
 

 
ADVOCACY UPDATE
 
 

On August 23, the Financial Services Committee leadership met with Ms. Luz Foo, Executive Director of the International Department of the Monetary Authority of Singapore to begin discussing plans for the 2018 ASEAN Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting, which will be hosted by Singapore. The meeting reviewed topics MAS and the Council are interested in discussing. MAS suggested that financial inclusion and infrastructure finance could be good areas for collaboration between ASEAN and the Council. The Council is also exploring a February/March 2018 engagement with the ASEAN Working Committee on Payment and Settlement Systems with a discussion likely focused on fintech enablement and regulation. More information about planning and attendance will be distributed in late 2017. Please contact Ian Saccomanno at isaccomanno@usasean.org if you have any questions or suggestions about committee plans.

 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
Market Development
Indonesia's banking industry is attracting many investors — but there are major risks
Myanmar to promote trade with ASEAN, China's Hong Kong
ASEAN policymakers need to deepen capital markets to unlock US$50-100 billion in capital to fill funding gaps amidst slow ASEAN capital market integration
AMIH creation will deepen information on Asean capital markets- SC chairman
Myanmar and World Bank Sign Agreement 
Global currency exchange and remittance industry experts heads to MAPC 2017
Economic managers: More foreign investors welcome in PH
Push to become regional Islamic financial hub
Malaysia’s first SuperCharger FinTech Accelerator
DOF cites substantial progress in ASEAN financial integration initiatives
Summit aims to create new financial products

Asset Management
Indonesia Unexpectedly Cuts Interest Rate: ETFs in Focus
SGX's Trading Of Ringgit Futures Criticised By BNM
Bank Negara's stance on trading of ringgit derivatives in offshore market

Banking
Indonesian Banks to Go Digital: Report
Singapore banks make big investment in staff digital transformation
Chea Serey's vision for the future of finance in Cambodia
Central bank launches online service
BSP requires money service businesses to tighten internal controls
PHL removed from dirty-money list
Indonesian central bank upbeat over higher loan growth this year
Malaysia to withstand financial shocks once China bubble burst
Do Indonesians Now Really Prefer to Save Rather than Consume?
Malaysian banks may have longer wait to enter Indonesia

E-Payments
Singapore’s Payments Council seeks road to common QR code
Taxi Fare Evasion on the Rise: Is it Time to Adopt Cashless Payments?
Vietnam is Preparing to Legalize Bitcoin
Digital disruptions need to be addressed
Thailand Post plans to set up logistics hub for the country’s Eastern Economic Corridor
Vitalik Buterin and Thai Central Bank Will Discuss Future of Financial Sector
Legal Framework ratified to implement ASEAN Single Window
Mastercard, PayPal expand partnership in Asia Pacific
Philippine JG Summit and Hong Kong Oriente to Serve the Unbanked in FinTech Partnership

Insurance
Malaysia: Pension fund eyes stakes in several foreign owned insurers
China's PICC in talks to acquire, buy stakes in Southeast Asian insurers
Singapore: Mitsui Sumitomo buys First Capital Insurance
Malaysia: General insurance sector sees flat premiums in 1H
Vietnam: Govt to ease market access for foreign insurers
Malaysia: Group captives among SMEs seen as next wave of captive insurers
New framework to cut inflation of medical insurance: Bank Negara
Malaysia: Insurance associations deny imposing fees on hospitals
Philippines: 25 provinces can tap pilot parametric insurance plan
Malaysia: Health insurers under probe for levying admin fees
Insurance can help Asia cut economic losses from disasters: MAS chief

Market Regulation
New OJK Deputy Chair Vows Responsive Policies in Fast-Changing Finance Sector
Tap into the vast Asean market, M’sian firms urged
Malaysia's Sustainable and Responsible Investment (SRI) Sukuk Framework examplary for regional green financing
Nazir: Fair tax treatment in the Asean capital market is pivotal
Malaysia c.bank says will act on international banks trading ringgit in Singapore
Ringgit Derivative Products In Offshore Market Against Malaysia's Policy - BNM
Press Release: OJK Optimizes Capital Market's Role as Financing Sources for Infrastructure Development
Buyers Beware: Singapore Central Bank Issues ICO Warning
Singapore 'can help set standards' for the jungle of green bonds
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Market Development

Indonesia's banking industry is attracting many investors — but there are major risks CNBC 25th Aug 2017
Kartika Wirjoatmodjo, president director and CEO of Bank Mandiri said at a CNBC panel earlier this month that he does not see margins or profitability decreasing anytime soon as "excess to financing is still limited and if all banks were to grow rapidly, it will take at least five years for the market to converge." While Wirjoatmodjo was confident, macro-economic and credit risks still threaten the industry, according to PwC's 2017 Indonesian Banking Survey.

Myanmar to promote trade with ASEAN, China's Hong Kong Xinhua 24th Aug 2017
Myanmar is planning to promote trade with ASEAN countries and China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) by reducing tariffs, official media reported Thursday. In accordance with the statistics of the Ministry of Commerce, Myanmar's trade with ASEAN countries amounted to over 2.6 billion U.S. dollars in the first three months of the current 2017-2018 fiscal year, of which export accounted for 892 million U.S. dollars, while the import took 1.6 billion U.S. dollars. Their trade hit over 9.6 billion U.S. dollars in last FY 2016-17. Meanwhile, the country's trade with China's Hong Kong SAR was 20 million U.S. dollars in first quarter of FY 2017-18 while it was 239 million U.S. dollars in last FY 2016-2017. A plan to set up ASEAN-Hong Kong free trade area is underway. China, South Korea, India and Australia have joined in ASEAN's free trade agreements (FTA) so far. ASEAN FTA aims at promoting local manufacturing industries, increasing ASEAN's competitive edge as a production base in the world market through the elimination of tariffs and non-tariff barriers and attracting more foreign direct investment to the ASEAN region.

ASEAN policymakers need to deepen capital markets to unlock US$50-100 billion in capital to fill funding gaps amidst slow ASEAN capital market integration CIMB ASEAN Research Institute 22nd Aug 2017
Deepening individual capital markets will help address critical funding gaps in ASEAN, including infrastructure development needs, by allowing issuers to raise affordable capital at scale and providing investors with viable and diverse options to deploy short- and long-term domestic savings. This is a prerequisite to address the disparity in maturity of capital markets across the region and promote better ASEAN capital market integration.

AMIH creation will deepen information on Asean capital markets- SC chairman New Straits Times 21st Aug 2017
The Securities Commission has called for the creation of an Asean Markets Information Hub (AMIH), which could be used towards further deepening of the region's capital markets. Executive chairman Tan Sri Ranjit Ajit Singh said there are a myriad of issues that stand in the way of a total Asean capital markets integration and the lack of information is a big portion of that.

Myanmar and World Bank Sign Agreement  finchannel.com 18th Aug 2017
The Republic of the Union of Myanmar and the World Bank today signed a US$200 million credit for a First Macroeconomic Stability and Fiscal Resilience Development Policy Operation. This is the first time Myanmar is receiving direct financial support to the Union Budget, aimed at accelerating economic changes needed for long-term peace and prosperity.   The Agreement was signed by Daw Nwe Nwe Win, Director General of Treasury Department, Ministry of Planning and Finance, and Ellen Goldstein, the World Bank Country Director for Myanmar, Cambodia and Lao PDR, in the presence of U Maung Maung Win, Deputy Minister of Planning and Finance, according to the World Bank.

Global currency exchange and remittance industry experts heads to MAPC 2017 NST Online 15th Aug 2017
More than 400 global currency exchange and remittance industry experts will be heading to Kuala Lumpur this September for the Money Services Business Asia Pacific Conference 2017 (MAPC 2017), the largest industry conference in the region.

Economic managers: More foreign investors welcome in PH Inquirer 15th Aug 2017
Economic managers on Tuesday enjoined foreign investors to take part in the Philippines’ growth story, highlighting a “vibrant” economy during their first international roadshow in Singapore, the government’s Investor Relations Office (IRO) said. “With the Philippines primed to play a key role in the vibrant growth of the Asean Economic Community, the Duterte administration is looking at increased private sector participation in the financing of its projects meant to close the infrastructure backlog, attract investments, create jobs, and achieve financial inclusion,” Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said during the Philippine Economic Briefing with the theme “The Rising Philippine Economy: Powering Gains with Global Partners Through Shared Goals.”

Push to become regional Islamic financial hub NST Online 14th Aug 2017
The Securities Commission Malaysia (SC) is paving the way to make the country a regional leader in the sustainable and responsible investing (SRI) space, but stressed that this grand objective cannot be achieved alone.

Malaysia’s first SuperCharger FinTech Accelerator The Sun Daily 14th Aug 2017
Following the success of its second accelerator programme in Hong Kong, SuperCharger FinTech Accelerator invites applications from international FinTech start-up and scale-up companies to participate in its first FinTech accelerator in Malaysia – a free, 12-week programme aimed at helping promising FinTech companies grow their business in Asia.

DOF cites substantial progress in ASEAN financial integration initiatives Philippine Information Agency 11th Aug 2017
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has cited the substantial inroads made by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on a wide range of initiatives aimed at establishing a seamless financial system  across the region.  Dominguez also said this regional bloc's setting up of an ASEAN Infrastructure Fund (AIF) will benefit the Philippines and the rest of the organization’s member-economies by way of sustaining the momentum of their economic growth and creating more jobs for their peoples. He said the ASEAN Finance Ministers Process (FMP), which is the tool to accomplish these goals, “is following through with several initiatives” to liberalize financial services and capital accounts, develop the region’s capital markets, set up a regional payments and settlements system, and establish the AIF to promote the use of regional savings in financing infrastructure development that will support connectivity across the region.

Summit aims to create new financial products Borneo Bulletin Online 4th Aug 2017
With the rising global demand for Islamic finance, the Brunei Darussalam Islamic Investment Summit (BIIS) 2017 hopes to produce financial experts and professionals. They will develop the lucrative financial industry, in line with the nation’s aspiration to become a reputable Islamic financial hub. With this, the various components in Islamic finance will see a spur in innovative products and services whilst also encourage economic growth.

Local financial infrastructure sees rapid growth Borneo Bulletin Online 3rd Aug 2017
His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah ibni His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office attended and officiated the Brunei Darussalam Islamic Investment Summit (BIIS) 2017 yesterday. The two-day summit is hosted by the Centre for Islamic Banking, Finance and Management (CIBFM) with the support of Autoriti Monetari Brunei Darussalam (AMBD). Themed ‘Globalisation of Islamic Finance: The Road Ahead’, the objective of the summit is to provide a useful platform for leaders, scholars and experts to share their knowledge and experience as well as to exchange views on current issues in Islamic finance with special focus on globalisation of Islamic finance.

Strong Islamic philosophy key to be finance hub Borneo Bulletin Online 3rd Aug 2017
Brunei Darussalam’s key competitive edge towards becoming an international Islamic Finance hub lies in its strong Islamic philosophy, which is embedded in its way of life and naturally contributes to the purity of the country’s Islamic finance. This was stated in a sabda yesterday by His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah ibni His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Chairman of Autoriti Monetari Brunei Darussalam (AMBD), during the opening ceremony of the Brunei Darussalam Islamic Investment Summit 2017 (BIIS 2017). “The global and regional economic environment has changed dramatically over the last 10 years, bringing with it new risks and challenges. Against this backdrop, the Islamic finance industry has seen extraordinary growth and has continued to evolve,” His Royal Highness said.

Asset Management

Indonesia Unexpectedly Cuts Interest Rate: ETFs in Focus NASDAQ.com 26th Aug 2017
Indonesia's central bank unexpectedly cut its benchmark interest rate by 25 basis points on August 22, 2017. It now stands at 4.5%. Improving inflation outlook and less hawkish stance of the U.S. Federal Reserve led to this decision. A mere six out of 28 economists surveyed by Bloomberg predicted a rate cut, while others expected the bank to hold.

SGX's Trading Of Ringgit Futures Criticised By BNM Malaysian Digest 13th Aug 2017
Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) has criticised the Singapore Exchange’s (SGX) move to introduce the trading of ringgit futures in the republic in a statement issued yesterday.

Bank Negara's stance on trading of ringgit derivatives in offshore market NST Online 9th Aug 2017
Bank Negara Malaysia is against the recent introduction of the ringgit futures at the Singapore Stock Exchange and the Intercontinental Exchange or ICE Futures Singapore. The central bank said the move is inconsistent with Malaysia’s foreign exchange administration (FEA) policy and rules.

Banking

Indonesian Banks to Go Digital: Report Jakarta Globe 23rd Aug 2017
Indonesian banks are going digital to stay competitive and relevant to meet the needs of millennial consumers who are set to dominate the population in the next decade, according to a recent report by corporate strategy consulting firm Soldiance, published on Tuesday (22/08).

Singapore banks make big investment in staff digital transformation The Straits Times 22nd Aug 2017
DBS Bank announced yesterday it is investing $20 million over the next five years in a broad-based programme to train its 10,000 Singapore-based employees in digital banking and emerging technologies. Singapore's biggest bank said the move supports Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's call at Sunday's National Day Rally to do more to make Singapore a Smart Nation. DBS said its programme supports the Monetary Authority of Singapore's vision to create a Smart Financial Centre where technology is used pervasively in the financial industry to increase efficiency, create opportunities, better manage risks, and improve lives.

Chea Serey's vision for the future of finance in Cambodia Southeast Asia Globe Magazine 21st Aug 2017
The National Bank of Cambodia director general talks about dedollarisation, the decision to cap microfinance interest rates and the potential of blockchain technology. You’ve now been serving as director general the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) for four years. How has banking evolved in Cambodia? I’ve seen a lot of new technology – especially 4G – coming into Cambodia. Tech plays a much more important role now in the banking system. When I first joined there were about two mobile payment providers, but now there are so many. That’s what we want to see because competition will ultimately benefit the customers. This year we’ve been able to launch FAST (Fast And Secure Transfer), which is a real-time money transfer from one bank account to another. All banks are required to be members. There are also many new instruments that allow the central bank to have more control over our monetary policy implementation. We have introduced our LPCO (Liquidity Providing on a Collateralised Operation) and we lend to local banks at a very low rate, which encourages them to lend more in local currency. We have also set up inflation forecasting and are working on GDP forecasting.

Central bank launches online service Khmer Times 17th Aug 2017
Cambodia’s Central Bank is to launch the National Bank of Cambodia Platform (NBCP) tomorrow, a trading system that allows all financial institutions to make transactions online, in a move to develop interbank connections as well as the FinTech, or financial technology, sector. Chea Serey, director-general of the NBC, told Khmer Times that the existing infrastructure is outdated and the cost of making transactions is high – the old system involves financial institutions having to prepare paperwork, it involves many staff and is time consuming. She said that before launching the NBC’s new online trading platform, the bank conducted a number of presentations to financial institutions, it conducted tests and sent NBCP related documents out to seek feedback from financial institutions. 

BSP requires money service businesses to tighten internal controls Business World 10th Aug 2017
The Central Bank has required money changers and remittance agents to set up internal control systems and follow stricter rules on record-keeping, as the regulator tightens its watch on non-bank channels to curb shady transactions.

PHL removed from dirty-money list BusinessWorld 10th Aug 2017
The Philippines has been removed from the watch list of a regional unit of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) following a new law that requires casinos to report daily deals to regulators, as the global watchdog recognized “significant progress” in combatting dirty-money deals.

Indonesian central bank upbeat over higher loan growth this year Xinhua 4th Aug 2017
Central bank of Indonesia was optimistic that banking credit will accelerate at a faster pace this year as commodities prices expected to recover in months to come. Governor of the lender Agus Martowardojo disclosed on Friday that he was upbeat over a 10 to 12 percent loan growth by year end, higher than 9 percent last year.

Malaysia to withstand financial shocks once China bubble burst NST Online 3rd Aug 2017
Malaysia is resilient to withstand any financial impact once the China bubble burst, said RHB Asset Management (RHB AM). Its chief investment officer of equities Mohd Fauzi Mohd Tahir said the stock market would be the first to be hit and then the repercussions would be felt in the banking sector followed by consumption spending. “That being said, Malaysia alongside most Asean countries have been strengthening their banking sector by both debt restructuring and building reserves. In fact our reserves are in good standing. There should not be much to be concerned of as there are already measures being taken by the regulators,” he said. Fauzi drew on the fact that the country’s first quarter gross domestic product (GDP) growth is at 5.6 per cent, surpasses expectations.

Do Indonesians Now Really Prefer to Save Rather than Consume? Indonesia Investments 3rd Aug 2017
Moreover, based on preliminary data from Indonesia's central bank (Bank Indonesia), the money supply rose 10.2 percent (y/y) to IDR 4,911 trillion up to June 2017. This is nearly double the growth pace that was recorded in June last year. Meanwhile, credit disbursement in Indonesia only rose 8.7 percent (y/y) to IDR 4,425.2 trillion. This is a slower pace and therefore seemingly indicates that consumers and companies are currently withholding spending and investment.

Malaysian banks may have longer wait to enter Indonesia The Edge Markets 1st Aug 2017
Indonesia would like to see the banking gap between Malaysia and itself reduced more significantly before it allows more Malaysian banks to enter its market, says Muliaman Hadad, former chairman of Indonesia’s Financial Services Authority, better known as OJK (Otoritas Jasa Keuwangan).

E-Payments

Singapore’s Payments Council seeks road to common QR code BankingTech.com 29th Aug 2017
The Monetary Authority of Singapore’s (MAS) new Payments Council plans to set up interoperable electronic payments and has unveiled a taskforce to develop a common QR code for the city-state. As reported earlier this month, the Council launched and comprises 20 people from banks, payment service providers, businesses, and trade associations. MAS says the setting up of the Council is part of a series of initiatives it is taking towards “realising the vision of an e-payments society in Singapore”.

Taxi Fare Evasion on the Rise: Is it Time to Adopt Cashless Payments? ASEAN Today 29th Aug 2017
Taxi fare evasion cases across Singapore are rising. That is what new data from the Public Transport Council (PTC) suggests. Between May 2015 and May 2016, there were a reported 279 cases of taxi fare evasions, but in a concerning revelation, this figure rose to 345 cases in the May 2016 to 2017 period. The rise in cases occurs despite the introduction of strict new penalties in May of 2016. The fine for first-time fare evaders now stands at S$200 (US$147), with repeat offenders having to cough up S$400 (US$294), double the 2015 punishments.

Vietnam is Preparing to Legalize Bitcoin CryptoCoinsNews 26th Aug 2017
Vietnam is preparing to legalize bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies under a new plan approved by the prime minister. As reported by VNA, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has asked the Minister of Justice to coordinate with other top advisors, including the State Bank of Vietnam and the Ministry of Finance, to draft a framework for cryptocurrency legalization by August 2018 so that the legal documents could be finalized by the end of the year. The prime minister also instructed his advisors to assess the best way to tax cryptocurrencies and penalize violations of the regulations. These tasks are to be completed by June and September of 2019, respectively.

Digital disruptions need to be addressed NST Online 22nd Aug 2017
The digital agenda in the Asean region is gaining momentum but more needs to be done by regulators to address the disruption in the various industries.

Thailand Post plans to set up logistics hub for the country’s Eastern Economic Corridor Post & Parcel 22nd Aug 2017
According to local sources, the national postal operator is focusing on ways to foster more e-commerce growth in Thailand – by developing e-marketplaces and ramping up its delivery channels for online sellers. The company is also reportedly looking to develop e-payment gateways to support the use of digital wallets. In addition, Thailand Post is using “Smart postboxes” that can be used to deliver tourist information, in addition to their standard postal duties.

Vitalik Buterin and Thai Central Bank Will Discuss Future of Financial Sector Vitalik Buterin and Thai Central Bank Will Discuss Future of Financial Sector 21st Aug 2017
The Central Bank of Thailand held a meeting with digital currency startup and Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin in mid-August 2017 to talk about such topics as the future of the Thai economy and its finance sector. The parties particularly discussed the possible integration of the digital currency Ethereum and the Blockchain-based services offered by companies like OmiseGo to further improve the country’s existing banking systems and financial platforms.

MAS clarifies digital token regulation in Singapore and advises on ICO risk Lexology 17th Aug 2017
Shortly after the SEC’s report on digital tokens, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has clarified its regulatory stance on the offer or issue of digital tokens in Singapore and has also released a joint statement with the Commercial Affairs Department on the risks associated with initial coin offerings (ICOs). Singapore is a popular jurisdiction for ICOs, in part due to its status as a leading fintech hub in Asia.

Singapore: Government cautions against risks of digital tokens and virtual currencies Asia Insurance Review 16th Aug 2017
Singapore authorities have advised the public to exercise due diligence to understand risks associated with digital tokens. This follows the emergence of initial coin/token offerings (ICOs) and other investment schemes involving these tokens in the country. Digital tokens are cryptographically-secured representations of a token-holder’s rights to receive a benefit or perform specified functions. One commonly-known type of digital token is virtual currency like Bitcoin and Ether.

Legal Framework ratified to implement ASEAN Single Window Export Development Council 14th Aug 2017
The Philippines has ratified the Protocol on the Legal Framework (PLF) to implement the ASEAN Single Window (ASW). The instrument of ratification was signed by the President on 28 June 2017. The ASW is an electronic gateway that provides seamless and simplified information among ASEAN member states. This means that the Philippines can now electronically receive and send certificates of origin under the ASEAN Trade in Goods agreement (ATIGA Form D), the document needed to avail of the preferential tariff agreement.

Standard QR code to be announced this month Bangkok Post 9th Aug 2017
The Bank of Thailand will announce its standardised quick response (QR) code for electronic money payments later this month, Finance Minister Apisak Tantivorawong said on Wednesday. With a standard code, financial institutions would be able to introduce QR code-based payment services, he said. QR services bear lower costs than payment with cards and electronic data capture (EDC) terminals, the minister said. Forgery is impossible and fraud is rare with QR payments, unlike payment with credit cards. However, EDC terminals must still be installed because not all people have smart devices to use QR code services, Mr Apisak said.

Mastercard, PayPal expand partnership in Asia Pacific Digital News Asia 4th Aug 2017
Mastercard and PayPal on Aug 3 announced an extension of their partnership into Asia Pacific to enhance the consumer experience and make Mastercard a clear payment option within PayPal. The deal will expand PayPal’s presence at the point of sale and enable Masterpass for Braintree merchants in the region. Additionally, both companies will collaborate to create opportunities to leverage on Mastercard’s new payment flow technologies, providing increased value to Mastercard cardholders, financial institutions, and PayPal customers.

Philippine JG Summit and Hong Kong Oriente to Serve the Unbanked in FinTech Partnership CryptoCoinsNews 4th Aug 2017
The Philippines and Hong Kong are joining forces in a fintech partnership to tap into the unbanked market in the region. Consumer credit is scarce is the Southeast Asian nation, but Philippine conglomerate JG Summit Holdings and Hong Kong-based Oriente are aiming to solve the financial exclusion problems for the unbanked and small businesses. According to a 2016 World Bank blog, there are 264 million adults who are still unbanked in Southeast Asia. Many who don’t have access to traditional banking services either save their money under their mattress or borrow from loan sharks, paying high interest rates.

Insurance

Malaysia: Pension fund eyes stakes in several foreign owned insurers Asia Insurance Review 29th Aug 2017
Malaysia's second biggest pension fund Kumpulan Wang Persaraan (KWAP) has narrowed down its investment options among foreign-owned insurance companies which have to reduce their stakes in their Malaysian businesses in order to comply with foreign ownership limits. KWAP Chief Executive Wan Kamaruzaman Wan Ahmad said: "We are at the point of appointing an investment bank as our advisor... (The companies are) the big ones, Great Eastern, Prudential and AIA," he said.

China's PICC in talks to acquire, buy stakes in Southeast Asian insurers Reuters 28th Aug 2017
Chinese insurance giant PICC Group is in talks to either acquire or buy a stake in several Southeast Asian insurers and expects some deals to close before the end of the year, a senior executive said on Monday. Xie Yiqun, vice president of the group, formally called People’s Insurance Company (Group) of China (PICC) (1339.HK), said he expects one or two deals to materialize this year with a few more to come in the next two or three years.

Singapore: Mitsui Sumitomo buys First Capital Insurance Asia Insurance Review 25th Aug 2017
Japan's Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Company (MSI) said yesterday that it had reached an agreement with Fairfax Financial Holdings to enter into a global partnership and to acquire First Capital Insurance, Singapore's largest commercial property and casualty insurer, for US$1.6 billion.

Malaysia: General insurance sector sees flat premiums in 1H Asia Insurance Review 25th Aug 2017
The general insurance industry in Malaysia saw gross written premium decline by 1.9% to MYR9.17 billion (US$2.14 billion) for the first half of 2017 compared to the same period last year, the General Insurance Association of Malaysia (PIAM) announced yesterday. Overall, the industry recorded a mixed performance across all business lines. While the two dominant classes of Motor and Fire insurance grew 1.8% (MYR4.2 billion) and 2.4% (MYR1.8 billion) respectively, the industry was weighed down by the sharp drop of 13.2% in Marine Aviation and Transit (MAT) insurance from MYR944 million to MYR820 million. The depressed state of the Oil & Gas industry and a weak aviation sector were the main contributing factors to the poor MAT results.

Vietnam: Govt to ease market access for foreign insurers Asia Insurance Review 21st Aug 2017
The Vietnamese Government will work to raise public awareness of life insurance and formulate more relevant policies to make it easier for companies, including AIA, to participate in the local insurance market, says Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue. He told Mr Ng Keng Hooi, Chief Executive and President of AIA Group, visiting in Hanoi that there are opportunities for the giant insurance group to invest in Vietnam’s life insurance market, reported the Vietnam News Agency.

Malaysia: Group captives among SMEs seen as next wave of captive insurers Asia Insurance Review 21st Aug 2017
The overlapping markets of the mutual, captive and takaful industries are likely to provide an important impetus for the wider use of group captives among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), Bank Negara Malaysia governor Mr Muhammad Ibrahim has said. Speaking at the inaugural Asian Captive Conference 2017 hosted by Labuan International Business and Financial Centre earlier this week, he added that captive insurers are poised to move beyond the predominant focus on the single parent-captive model and the exclusive domain of large corporates. He said that many non-profits entities in the US and an increasing number of SMEs are accessing captives via group captive models that pool assets and share risks across its members. Captive insurance could be a powerful catalyst for more mature risk management practices and culture among SMEs.

New framework to cut inflation of medical insurance: Bank Negara NST Online 18th Aug 2017
Bank Negara Malaysia will come out with a framework to reduce medical insurance inflation, which now stands at 12 per cent.

Malaysia: Insurance associations deny imposing fees on hospitals Asia Insurance Review 16th Aug 2017
Insurance associations in Malaysia have denied that their members impose administrative charges on private hospitals, and instead called on hospitals to provide greater transparency and disclosure of healthcare fees and costs. In a joint statement, the Life Insurance Association of Malaysia (LIAM), General Insurance Association of Malaysia and Malaysian Takaful Association (MTA) said that they would like to confirm that none of their member insurance companies and takaful operators had requested for “cuts” from hospitals for the medical expenses incurred by their policyholders.

Philippines: 25 provinces can tap pilot parametric insurance plan Asia Insurance Review 16th Aug 2017
The Department of Finance (DOF) has identified the disaster-prone provinces to be covered by an insurance fund that was recently approved by President Rodrigo Duterte. Finance Assistant Secretary Ms Paola Alvarez said that 25 disaster-prone provinces can now tap the PHP25-billion (US$486 million) insurance fund, reported Manila Bulletin citing a ministry statement.

Malaysia: Health insurers under probe for levying admin fees Asia Insurance Review 15th Aug 2017
The Health Ministry (MOH) will work with the central bank Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) to investigate the ongoing practice of private health insurance companies imposing administrative charges on private hospitals. Health Ministeri Dr S. Subramaniam said that the practice was unethical and could cause medical costs in the country to soar, reported the Bernama News Agency.

Insurance can help Asia cut economic losses from disasters: MAS chief The Business Times 4th Aug 2017
With the increasing frequency and severity of natural catastrophes striking Asia, the region needs to close the wide protection gap through insurance to lower the financial impact of natural disasters and raise disaster resilience, said Ravi Menon, managing director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). Speaking at the Institute of Catastrophe Risk Management (ICRM) Symposium on Thursday, he noted that, going by United Nations data, the number of natural disasters in the Asia-Pacific has grown from an average of 44 a year in the 1970s to 146 in the 2000s. Growing urbanisation has increasingly concentrated Asian wealth in small, over-populated megacities, many of which are found in the Philippines, China, Japan, India, Indonesia and Bangladesh.

Market Regulation

New OJK Deputy Chair Vows Responsive Policies in Fast-Changing Finance Sector Jakarta Globe 23rd Aug 2017
Supreme Court Chief Justice Hatta Ali swore in Nurhaida for a five-year term as deputy chairwoman of the Financial Services Authority, or OJK, in Jakarta on Tuesday (22/08). Nurhaida, who served as OJK commissioner for capital market supervision from 2012 to 2017, was promoted to replace Rahmat Waluyanto, whose tenure ended this year.

Tap into the vast Asean market, M’sian firms urged The Star Online 22nd Aug 2017
Malaysian companies should be experimenting with the Asean market to tap into the region’s vast population of more than 620 million people, said CIMB Group Holdings Bhd chairman Datuk Seri Nazir Razak. He also suggested a minimal tax level across Asean countries and a virtual board that lists out all the top companies in Asean, to spur investments within the region. “We are now living in the world of fourth industrial revolution and that requires scale, that requires our own companies to experiment with the scale of Asean so that we can invest in technology,” he said on the sidelines of the “Asean roundtable series – Deepening capital markets in Asean: Opportunities and challenges’’ yesterday.

Malaysia's Sustainable and Responsible Investment (SRI) Sukuk Framework examplary for regional green financing NST Online 21st Aug 2017
Other Asean countries are welcome to replicate Malaysia’s Sustainable and Responsible Investment (SRI) Sukuk Framework in order to create a more cohesive regional environment for green financing.

Nazir: Fair tax treatment in the Asean capital market is pivotal Malay Mail 21st Aug 2017
A fair tax treatment in the Asean capital market is pivotal to spur intra-Asean capital flow, said CIMB Group chairman Datuk Seri Nazir Razak. For example, in accessing government Bhat and corporate bonds in Thailand’s capital market, Malaysian investors would be imposed capital gains tax while Singaporean and South Korean investors were exempted, he said, adding that Singaporean investors were also exempted from taxes on Indonesian Rupiah government bonds, while Malaysian and South Korean investors were slapped with the tax.

Malaysia c.bank says will act on international banks trading ringgit in Singapore Reuters 18th Aug 2017
Any international bank that has an operating license in Malaysia could face legal action if it facilitates ringgit futures trading on the Singapore Stock Exchange and the Intercontinental Exchange, Malaysia's central bank governor said on Friday. Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) Governor Muhammad Ibrahim said any ringgit transaction in Singapore involving a Malaysian client and a bank licensed in Malaysia will be subject to Malaysian law. "The law specifically says that residents, which includes individuals and banks operating here, if they engage in any illegal activities in contravention with the Financial Services Act, we will take action," Muhammad told a news conference.

Ringgit Derivative Products In Offshore Market Against Malaysia's Policy - BNM Malaysian Digest 13th Aug 2017
The recent introduction of ringgit futures at the Singapore Stock Exchange (SGX) and the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) or ICE Futures Singapore is inconsistent with Malaysia’s foreign exchange administration (FEA) policy and rules, said Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM).

Press Release: OJK Optimizes Capital Market's Role as Financing Sources for Infrastructure Development OJK 11th Aug 2017
Chairman of Financial Services Authority's (OJK) Board of Commissioners Wimboh Santoso during a press conference held on Friday (Aug. 11) at the Indonesia Stock Exchange (IDX) Building, Jakarta, said that in the short term, the OJK would focus on efforts to:

Buyers Beware: Singapore Central Bank Issues ICO Warning CoinDesk 10th Aug 2017
Singapore's central bank has issued an investor warning about the risks of initial coin offerings (ICOs). A new notice from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) – published in tandem with the Commercial Affairs Department (the administration layer for the city-state's police force) – advises prospective investors to investigate and understand the risks associated with buying into token sales.

Singapore 'can help set standards' for the jungle of green bonds The Business Times 3rd Aug 2017
As the global economy shifts from spending trillions of dollars a year in subsidies for fossil fuels, Singapore can play a leadership role in standardising the issuances of green bonds, said a top economist from Amundi Asset Management. This comes as there already has been some disquiet about the standards of green bonds, as observers quip that the green bonds are in shades of "light green, medium green and dark green", and some worry that "greenwashing" will kill this alternative asset class emerging from this part of the world.