Brunei Darussalam’s banking system is characterised by a dual system made up of Islamic and conventional banks, as well as an Islamic trust fund set up under its own statute.
According to the Brunei Darussalam Central Bank’s (BDCB) first semi-annual policy statement released in July 2022, the banking industry continues to have a robust capital position with an aggregate Capital Adequacy Ratio of 20.9 per cent as of Q1 2022.
While the global inflation forecast is expected to remain elevated and disruptions on global supply chains are likely to persist in the near-term, the BDCB expects its impacts on the Sultanate’s overall inflation to be low, given the tightening of Monetary Authority of Singapore’s (MAS) monetary policy thrice so far in the first seven months of the year. BDCB’s inflation forecast for 2022 is expected to be between two to three per cent.
The BDCB recorded growth in the financial sector total assets of 7.9 per cent year-on-year with total asset value of BND23.9 billion as of Q1 of 2022.
Also as of Q1 2022, the Islamic finance sector held 58 per cent with BND13.9 billion, while deposit-taking institutions made up 92 per cent of the total financial sector assets with an asset base of BND22 billion.
BDCB noted that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has revised down its 2022 global growth forecast from 4.4 to 3.6 per cent due to spillover effects from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, such as supply shocks and higher inflation. Meanwhile, the domestic economy contracted by 1.6 per cent in 2021.
Profitability of the banking industry has also declined due to heightened uncertainties associated with the pandemic and relatively low global interest/profit rates environment.
The temporary regulatory flexibility to banks and finance companies in Brunei ceased after June 30, 2022 as restrictions were lifted and businesses as well as individuals started to recover from the impact of the pandemic.
To further ensure that the financial sector’s critical infrastructure meets international standards, BDCB issued Guidelines on Technology Risk Management and Guidelines on IT Third Party Risk Management to all financial institutions, in line with the Financial Sector Blueprint’s (2016-2025) strategic goal under Pillar III.
BDCB also issued a notice on Academic Qualification and Work Experience Requirement for Capital Markets Services Representative’s Licence (CMSRL) to improve the level of professionalism within the financial sector, and a notice on the application process and requirements of investment-linked insurance business for insurance companies to enhance the governance of this business undertaking.
The ASEAN+3 Macroeconomic Research Outlook (AMRO) in its April 2022 publication also said Brunei’s banks continue to be well capitalised, with ample liquidity and reasonable profitability.
On January 13, 1993, His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam consented to the formation of the Islamic Bank of Brunei (IBB).
“The Islamic Bank of Brunei (IBB) will be operating on an Islamic foundation. It will carry out its financial banking system in accordance with ‘Syarak’ or law based on Islamic teaching… The Islamic financial system that we strive for will be carried out with a broad vision. We will sustain it infinitely and pass it down to future generations.”
Titah by His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam at the inauguration of Islamic Bank of Brunei on January 13, 1993
From its beginnings as the Island Development Bank in 1981, to the formation of IBB in 1993 and the merger of IBB and the Islamic Development Bank of Brunei (IDBB) into Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam (BIBD) in 2005, the bank has stood as a testament to His Majesty’s desire to consistently and wholeheartedly fulfil the teachings of Islam in Brunei Darussalam.
As a testament to BIBD’s positive growth and strong corporate governance, BIBD has been rated A- (Stable) by S&P Global since 2015. BIBD’s growth can largely be attributed to the guidance of its Board of Directors and Shariah Advisory Body who have not only ensured that BIBD operates in accordance to Islamic principles and values, but also played a role in diversifying its range of Islamic financial products.
As a bank that is uniquely Bruneian at Heart, BIBD continues its commitment as a provider of Islamic financial products and services, facilitating the country’s economic growth and supporting Brunei Vision 2035.
Throughout the years, BIBD has played a key role in supporting the country’s economy by providing capital to businesses and organisations, providing employment as well as creating job opportunities, and facilitating the development of key projects and foreign direct investment.
The bank is also strongly committed to promoting the growth of local businesses through its SME360 service. To further extend its services and footprint in the region, BIBD set up representative offices in Singapore and Dubai, signifying its commitment to the country’s economic diversification, growth and development, and progress of the Islamic financial industry in Brunei and beyond.
His Royal Highness Prince ‘Abdul Mateen delivers his sabda at the Youth Empowerment Summit.
BIBD believes in empowering the local workforce and creating meaningful employment opportunities while also supporting businesses, which indirectly leads to more job opportunities.
As one of the largest private employers in the country, BIBD places a strong emphasis on training and certification programmes sourced from local and international benchmark institutions.
This is complemented by other investments to produce a highly skilled talent pool in support of Brunei Vision 2035.
As part of its contributions to society, the bank’s corporate social responsibility programmes have helped foster stronger communities by granting education support to students in need through BIBD Advocating Life-long Learning for Aspiring Future (ALAF) and empowering youth through the BIBD Youth Empowerment Summit.
BIBD’s Community for Brunei supports micro enterprises and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) through its virtual marketplace while also providing a digital volunteerism and fundraising feature. In addition, the bank supports the empowerment of underprivileged women through entrepreneurship training programmes such as BIBD Special Entrepreneurial Empowerment and Development (SEED) and supporting households through Sirah Amal.
The bank has also committed to impactful actions that can contribute to the country’s reduced carbon footprint, aligning with the national agenda to achieve net zero by 2050. BIBD works closely to collaborate and support youth-led NGOs, especially those taking action on sustainability.
As the bank celebrates its achievements over the past 30 years, BIBD seeks to give back to the community and the nation by playing an active role in the country’s economic and social development.
BIBD’s digital platform, BIBD NEXGEN, was launched in 2018 to bring greater convenience and make banking more accessible to all. It is also in support of Brunei Darussalam Central Bank’s (BDCB) Financial Sector Blueprint 2016-2025, and His Majesty’s aspiration for Brunei Darussalam to become a Smart Nation. As a responsible corporate citizen, BIBD also signalled its support for a wider commitment to sustainability through the BIBD Sustainability Framework and Roadmap with a target commitment of BND2 billion by 2030 towards sustainability funding.
BIBD has come a long way since its inception in 1993. There are many more strategies to realise, milestones to achieve and innovations to unravel – laying further the foundation for BIBD’s growth as it continues to serve the community and support His Majesty’s Government.
In conjunction with its anniversary, the bank launched the BIBD 30th Anniversary Commemorative Gallery which showcases its journey and milestones. The showcase is a testament of BIBD’s commitment and dedication to support BDCB Financial Sector Blueprint that contributes to Brunei Vision 2035 in diversifying the country’s economic growth and building human asset capabilities.
BIBD as the partner of growth is poised and ready to scale to greater heights sustainably and progress together, beyond banking.
Established in 1994, Baiduri Bank is a member of Baiduri Bank Group, one of the largest providers of financial products and services in Brunei Darussalam. The bank has 10 branches including its headquarters with a workforce of over 700 people, constantly in pursuit of innovation while improving its digitalisation initiatives in the fast-evolving market.
As a front runner in delivering digitalfirst experiences, Baiduri Bank offers a comprehensive suite of digital solutions including its award-winning mobile banking app, Baiduri b.Digital Personal and dedicated business digital Internet banking service, Baiduri b.Digital Business. The bank’s digital innovations are in line with BDCB Digital Payment Roadmap which seeks to transform Brunei into a digital economy as Baiduri Bank continues to further develop its services to enhance customer experience and engagement.
The bank has also been adopting modern technologies including artificial intelligence (AI), robotic process automation (RPA) and new microservices to help automate existing workflows.
In recent years, the bank has embarked on a digital transformation journey with the aim of leveraging technology to elevate operational efficiency, analytical capabilities and ultimately, customer experience. A strategic and significant investment in this digital transformation journey is the move to cloud banking. On November 1, 2022, Baiduri Bank signed an agreement with Temenos, the world’s leading open platform for composable banking, to run its core banking services on a SaaS platform in the cloud. With this move, Baiduri Bank will be the first bank in Brunei to operate its core banking platform in the cloud under the SaaS model.
When speaking on the future of banking, the Chief Executive Officer of Baiduri Bank Ti Eng Hui, said, “With technology advancing at an everincreasing rate, the drive to incorporate it into the banking environment is part of our sustainability plan. This investment opens up new opportunities for the bank by providing instant access to world-class banking capabilities.”
Baiduri Bank was also recently recognised as the Best Bank in Brunei at the Euromoney Awards for Excellence 2022. This marked the very first time the award was won by a Bruneian bank. Baiduri Finance, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the bank, was awarded the Finance Company of the Year for Brunei at the Asian Banking & Finance Retail Banking Awards 2022 for the first time. Baiduri Bank also won several other awards, underscoring its commitment as an institution that constantly delivers banking excellence.
Leading international rating agency Standard & Poor’s also upgraded the bank’s long-term issuer credit rating from BBB+ to A-/A-2 with stable outlook. This places Baiduri Bank in the high investment grade category alongside regional and international peers.
On the security front, Baiduri Bank demonstrated its commitment to the highest data security standard when it was recertified to Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCIDSS) V3.2.1 for the ninth consecutive year in 2022. The PCI-DSS covers several aspects related to protecting customer confidentiality and data such as the handling of data by the bank’s systems, guarding against theft of data as well as Internet-based intrusions among others.
Behind every successful organisation is a dedicated team, and Baiduri Bank invests in employee development through programmes such as the Leadership Academy and Emerging Leaders Mentoring Programme to foster leadership capabilities, promote lifelong learning and cultivate a positive, value-based workplace culture. At the same time, the bank actively supports employee well-being by adopting a holistic and comprehensive approach. Its flagship programme, the Employee Wellness Initiative (EWI), offers year-round activities designed to promote wellness lifestyle practices in four key areas: financial, physical, mental and spiritual.
In addition to investing in employee development, Baiduri Bank also seeks to support professional development among local graduates through its Graduate Apprenticeship Programme (GAP). GAP is a six-month holistic learning programme aimed at providing fresh graduates with the necessary knowledge, skill and experience to increase their employability in the local job market.
The bank’s commitment to being a strong community partner in cocreating a sustainable future is rooted in its mission to enrich, empower and engage the communities. In its efforts to promote financial literacy among Bruneians, Baiduri Bank, through its Wealth Management division and subsidiary, Baiduri Capital, holds seminars at schools and institutes of higher education and school visits to Baiduri Bank headquarters. By opening its doors to young people so they expand their financial knowledge, the bank hopes to instil the importance of good financial habits from a young age and contribute towards building a financially literate society, in line with Brunei Vision 2035.
“In adapting to the changing ways information is consumed by the general public, specifically the youth, we also leverage on our social media platforms offering tips and advice on achieving financial goals,” Ti said.
Baiduri Bank also collaborates with various organisations such as Darussalam Enterprise (DARe) to support local entrepreneurs through the MSME Empowerment series as part of its corporate social responsibility. In support of waste reduction and green practices, the bank collaborated with Big BWN Project to conduct ‘Zero to Hero’ workshops at selected schools to educate students on low-impact living so they can be the catalyst for change towards a greener future.
To encourage its employees to give back to the community, the bank introduced its very own employee volunteer programme ‘Baiduri Cares’. In 2022, Baiduri Bank employees contributed close to 600 hours in community service, including participation at partner events such as the Children’s Cancer Foundation (YASKA) and Thalassaemia Awareness Roadshow and the National Theatre Festival Brunei 2022.
Moving forward, Baiduri Bank aspires to continue its efforts to innovate and improve on the digital front, develop its people, promote workplace health and wellbeing and carry out community strengthening activities in the spirit of co-creation towards building a sustainable future.
This year, Standard Chartered Bank observes its 65th year of establishment in Brunei Darussalam. As one of the largest international banks in Brunei with a presence in all 10 ASEAN markets, this milestone makes the bank one of the oldest banks in the country as well.
With 85,000 employees and a presence in 59 markets, Standard Chartered’s network serves customers in close to 150 markets worldwide.
Emerging from the tail-end of the pandemic and facing new challenges brought on by political instability in the west with inflation affecting global markets, the bank continues to help clients seek opportunities, outlining the need and ability to pivot and adapt quickly to capture such opportunities.
For the ninth time, Standard Chartered was awarded Best Digital Bank Brunei in 2022. This time by The Digital Banker under the Global Retail Banking Innovation Awards. The award is a testament to the commitment that the bank has placed on its aspirations to digitise and provide seamless, safe and convenient banking for its individual and business clients.
Driven by the urgency to respond to the pandemic crisis, Standard Chartered continued delivering business as usual even with 50 per cent of staff operating by business continuity plans of split operations or work from home basis. The bank also quickly pivoted to operationalise certain processes to provide ease for their clients while keeping them and bank staff safe during that time.
The bank accelerated a host of enhanced services through its awardwinning SC Mobile app in the past year. It is the only bank where clients can view their whole investment portfolio and manage their cards via the app. Card management services include PIN change, new card activation, convert eligible credit card transactions to 0% EasyPay instalment plans, report lost or stolen cards and perform credit card balance refunds to name a few.
Making digital banking safe for clients has also been a priority with enhanced controls on payment and fund transfer transactions. With the rise of fraudulent activities preying on vulnerable people, secure banking practises have proven to be extremely important to keep clients safe financially.
The pandemic shone a light on many issues faced by the world and sustainability was brought to the forefront more than ever.
As a bank, Standard Chartered is committed to sustainable social and economic development through its business, operations and communities. This is guided by its brand promise of being here for good.
From the way Standard Chartered conducts its business, how the bank operates and how it supports and includes the communities of the markets it operates in, the bank’s sustainability aspirations are aligned to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
As a group, Standard Chartered has pledged to: reduce emissions associated with its financing activities to net zero by 2050, setting 2030 interim targets in its most carbonintensive sectors; ensure it continues to support clients as they transition by catalysing finance and partnerships, including a plan to mobilise USD300 billion in green and transition finance; and accelerate solutions to support a just transition in its markets, including launching new sustainable products for clients.
In Brunei, Standard Chartered was the first capital license holder to offer the first Sustainable and Responsible Investing (SRI) unit trust fund in Brunei. The fund invests in quality companies that generate structural growth with attractive valuations and positive impact to society following environmental, social and governance (ESG) principles and offers an attractive investment option for clients looking to make a positive impact through their investment.
In Brunei, the bank is committed to eco targets of reducing paper printing and increasing recyclable waste.
Its main office in Bandar is also certified as the first single-use plastic-free building by Global Commercial Real Estate Services (CBRE).
By going digital and reducing manual processes, the bank aims to achieve high targets that it has set for itself. In addition, the bank is keen to provide thought leadership to relevant government agencies on sustainability themes and to consider having sectorled sustainable finance events to help clients and stakeholders understand the transitioning journey.
Digitising services and processes offers opportunities to go paperless and reduce carbon output from driving to visit a physical branch while also aligning with clients’ need for convenience and the country’s aspirations to promote digitisation in order to be future ready to achieve a sustainable development for the country.
As countries open up and consumers emerge to take advantage of travel restriction easing, Standard Chartered is focussed on delivering on overall performance goals for its clients and investors while keeping lessons learnt from the pandemic close at heart in order to serve its clients best.
The bank will continue to lead the way on collaborative partnerships for the mutual benefit of its clients as well as to continue providing innovative banking solutions in areas of digital services and wealth management.
Standard Chartered also sees itself as a key partner to stakeholders in providing thought leadership on sustainable finance and driving the transition agenda for its clients.
Bank of China (Hong Kong) or BOCHK is the leading commercial banking group in Hong Kong with strong market positions in all major businesses. The bank offers a comprehensive range of financial, investment and wealth management services to personal, corporate and institutional customers.
BOCHK has a prominent presence in the Southeast Asian region, with branches and subsidiaries in Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos and Brunei. In The Asian Banker’s Strongest Banks by Balance Sheet 2021 evaluation, BOCHK maintained its top ranking in Asia Pacific. The bank excelled in the areas of scale, risk profile, asset quality and liquidity.
In December 2016, the bank officially opened its branch in Brunei as the first Chinese financial institution to establish its footprint in the country. The BOCHK Brunei branch offers corporate banking, syndicated loan, RMB, cash management, trade finance, non-banking, public sector and personal banking services.
Malaysia’s largest financial institution Maybank is one of the leading banks in Southeast Asia, with branches in all 10 ASEAN member states and global financial markets such as China and the United States. Maybank has an international network of over 2,600 branches worldwide with 60 years of resilience and market expertise.
The Maybank Group offers a comprehensive range of products and services that include commercial banking, investment banking, Islamic banking, offshore banking, leasing and hire purchase, insurance, factoring, trustee services, asset management, stock broking, nominee services, venture capital and Internet banking.
Maybank commenced operations in Brunei as its first overseas unit in 1960. The bank provides full retail and commercial banking products and services. Over the years, Maybank Brunei has continued to thrive and sustain its success in the face of a challenging economic climate.
Founded in 1935, United Overseas Bank (UOB) has charted steady growth and established itself as a leading bank in Asia with more than 500 offices across Asia Pacific, Western Europe and North America. Its asset management arm, UOB Asset Management, is one of Singapore’s most awarded fund managers with a growing regional presence. UOB is rated among the world’s top banks, with a rating of AA1 from Moody’s and AA from Standard & Poor’s respectively.
In 1974, UOB started its operations in Brunei under Overseas Union Bank. The bank opened its second branch in Kuala Belait in 1984. The two branches took on UOB’s name when Overseas Union Bank merged with UOB in January 2002. Three years later, the bank relocated its branch office in Bandar Seri Begawan.
UOB Brunei divested its retail banking business in 2015. Since then, their focus as a bank is in wholesale banking, onboarding and providing banking services and facilities such as current accounts, time deposits, remittance services, overdraft, trade finance, term loans, working capital and project financing facilities, loan syndication and transaction banking.
As a subsidiary of RHB Banking group, RHB Bank Berhad is Malaysia’s oldest bank with the incorporation of the Kwong Yik (Selangor) Banking Corporation (Kwong Yik Bank) in July 1913.
Following the Group Corporate Restructuring Plan, RHB Bank Berhad is now the ultimate holding company of the RHB Banking Group effective June 2016. It has been listed on the main market of Bursa Malaysia Securities Berhad on June 28, 2016, in place of RHB Capital Berhad, the former ultimate holding company of RHB Banking Group. In an increasingly competitive business environment, RHB Bank Berhad maintains as one of the leading financial services providers not only in Malaysia but also in the Asia-Pacific region.
The bank has received numerous awards and accolades over the years. With its remarkable service towards small and medium enterprises (SMEs), RHB Bank Berhad won the prestigious Excellence in SME Banking award in Asia in 2019. RHB Bank Berhad provides commercial and merchant banking services with more than 300 branches located across Southeast Asia including Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Brunei.
RHB Bank Berhad’s branch in Brunei has been in operation since 1965 and was initially known as United Malayan Banking Corporation Berhad. In December 1996, the bank was renamed Sime Bank Berhad after the change in ownership under the Sime Darby Group of Malaysia. Following the banking consolidation exercise in Malaysia, the branch was renamed RHB Bank Brunei Berhad in May 1999 offering financial products such as housing loans as well as working capital or financing for registered businesses in Brunei such as overdraft, trade facilities and business loans. As part of initiatives to be closer to its clients, RHB Bank Brunei had relocated its premise commencing May 9, 2022 in Arches building, Kampong Kiarong. The new premises has additional services including Cash Deposit Machines (CDM) and Safe Deposit Box Services.
Community well-being is one of RHB Bank Brunei’s most substantive pillars under Community Enrichment, through which it focusses on enriching and empowering vulnerable members of the community. During the pandemic, the bank turned the disruptions and challenges into opportunities in need by contributing in cash and in kind. Although its annual community engagement programme, RHB Touch Hearts, was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, RHB Bank Brunei continued to give back to society by reaching out during festive seasons. Further to that, the bank helped to alleviate the negative impacts of natural disaster by contributing to humanitarian causes.
In an effort to get closer to the community, since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, RHB Bank Brunei has contributed almost MYR8.4 million to help alleviate the negative impacts of the pandemic. In 2021, the bank continued with its efforts by contributing MYR5.7 million through cash and in-kind donations. RHB Brunei donated 100 bottles of hand sanitisers and 100 boxes of masks, along with packed food and drinks worth BND1,600 distributed to three isolation centres in the Tutong and Temburong districts.
Moving forward, RHB Bank Brunei strives to expand its business and continues to provide the best of services to its customers, guided by its corporate vision and values.
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