Singapore Among Five Southeast Asian Countries Accepting Cross-Border QR Code Payment for Travellers

The central banks of the five biggest economies in Southeast Asia are planning to link up their payment systems before the end of the year to make it easier for travellers to conduct transactions in the region.

Credit: Wix

The new agreement includes Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines. It’s essentially an expansion of the existing links between some of the aforementioned countries, such as the one between Singapore and Thailand, for example. The five countries are expected to integrate their payment networks by November, as Bloomberg reports.


Once the new system is in place, travellers can pay for goods and services in any of these countries without the need to exchange for U.S. dollars, which typically serve as an intermediary between currencies. They simply have to scan a QR code and the system takes care of the currency exchange. If a traveller, for instance, uses an Indonesian app to transact in Thailand, the system would exchange rupiah for baht.


“This can be a deeply impactful move that we can build to the rest of the world,” said Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) Managing Director Ravi Menon at a panel in Bali. “It’s a public good infrastructure which improves financial inclusion, enhances efficiency and creates new business opportunities for all citizens.”


In the future, the central banks also plan to link the new network to other regional clusters around the world and maybe even accommodate real-time bank transfers and central bank digital currencies.


Singapore, as stated earlier, previously launched a cross-border QR code payment network with Thailand in 2019, allowing Thai tourists to transact in Singapore using their local payment apps. The partnership was between Thailand’s Siam Commercial Bank and the Singapore fintech startup Liquid Group.

Credit: NETS

The island city-state already has a unified QR code system in the form of SGQR, which was launched by MAS in 2018. In the years since, banks and startups alike, including DBS, UOB and Grab, among others, have onboarded onto the standardised payment system.

 
  • The central banks of Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines are planning to link up their payment systems by November to make it easier for travellers to conduct transactions in the region.

  • Once the new system is in place, travellers can pay for goods and services in any of these countries without the need to exchange for U.S. dollars, which typically serve as an intermediary between currencies.

  • They simply have to scan a QR code and the system takes care of the currency exchange.

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