Banking execs discuss sector issues, development

|     James Kon     |

OVER 200 senior banking executives from the 10 ASEAN member countries attended the 48th ASEAN Banking Council Meeting held from November 7 – 8 at The Empire Hotel & Country Club in Jerudong.

The meeting, hosted by the Brunei Association of Banks (BAB), saw ASEAN’s top bankers discussing topics of regional banking interest, such as developments in the finance sector, implementation of measures to increase outside participation in the region’s markets, introduction of best practice initiatives, sustainable and responsible financing as well as the need to digitise the industry to foster connectivity among member countries.

Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance and Economy II Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah was the guest of honour.

Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN, ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Dr Aladdin D Rillo, during his keynote speech, said ASEAN has developed its financial sector to weather any future financial crisis since the Asian financial crisis 18 years ago.

“Many ASEAN member countries have adapted and restructured their banking products and services throughout the years, and these developments have allowed the region to attract investments in trade and capital flows,” he added. “The overall banking industry in ASEAN has also been strengthened to increase foreign participation in the region’s domestic markets.”

Guest of honour Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance and Economy II Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah in a group photo during the council meeting. – PHOTOS: BAHYIAH BAKIR
Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew addresses the event

Vice Chairman of the BAB and Senior Vice President and Country Manager of United Overseas Bank, Brunei Abdul Razak bin Abdul Malek said that one of the ASEAN Bankers Association’s (ABA) goals is to strengthen ASEAN’s “voice” in policy advocacy efforts globally and regionally.

“It also aims to contribute to the ASEAN Economic Community and provide private sector support in alignment with AEC’s goals, share banking knowhow, provide education to promote best-in-class banking practices among member countries, and promote active collaboration between ASEAN banking institutions, as well as foster friendship and cooperation among bankers,” he added.

Meanwhile, Chairman of the ABA and Laos Bankers Association and General Managing Director of Banque Pour Le Commerce Exterieur Lao Public Phoukhong Chanthachack said the effects of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) are increasingly being imprinted on the region and its economic ecosystems.

“All of the economies in ASEAN will be affected in some way or another by the arrival of this new era. We need to build our readiness and leverage on the economic potential from the transformative power of 4IR, as well as work towards sustainable economic development,” he said.

“There must be a move from analog to digital systems in our banking sector, given the significant economic potential of such a transition. This new banking frontier is estimated to be worth up to USD625 billion by 2030 or about eight per cent of ASEAN’s GDP for that year, and is one of the five strategic pillars in the ASEAN Connectivity Master Plan.”

Members also endorsed the proposals of its three permanent committees – the Cooperation in Finance, Investment, Trade and Technology; ASEAN Inter-Regional Relations; and Banking Education.

The Committee on Cooperation in Finance, Investment, Trade and Technology (COFITT) committed to continue promoting sustainable and responsible financing through the conducting of awareness and capacity-building workshops in the ASEAN member countries, and has sought to share with member countries, opportunities available in green bond financing.

The committee at the meeting yesterday also shared how banks can increase productivity and provide better customer experience by harnessing application programming interface (APIs) and using artificial intelligence and big data. It said that the employment of such technologies must be complemented with a robust understanding of cybersecurity and its related risks.

The Committee on ASEAN Inter-Regional Relations (IRR) said the possibility of a cooperative relationship between the IRR, ABA and ASEAN BAC has been discussed during the 73rd ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN BAC) Meeting held in Singapore in January this year.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the formation of an ASEAN BAC Joint Business Council Financial Services Working Group was also proposed to underpin cooperation between the ASEAN BAC and ABA.

Under the MoU, which is proposed for a period of three years, ASEAN BAC and ABA will work together to support the Banking Sub-Sector Working Group responsible for highlighting issues and problems hindering the transition of the ASEAN banking sector into the new digital era.

The committee added that it will conduct a study tour to Thailand next year as part of its planned activities.

As for the Committee on Banking Education, the creation of an online portal for banking education and training through the ABA website has been proposed. This is to be overseen by the committee and administered by the ABA Secretariat.

The 22nd ASEAN Banking Conference and 49th ASEAN Banking Council Meeting will be held during the last week of November 2019 in Cambodia and will be hosted by the Association of Banks in Cambodia (ABC).