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 Autoriti Monetari Brunei Darussalam (AMBD) Financial Stability Report 2019, the country’s economic growth in 2019, particularly in the non-oil and gas sector, has contributed to the improved performance of the banking industry with the expansion of assets, deposits, loans/financing and profitability.
In spite of an increased external sector risk, the banking sector remained resilient and stable given the high level of capitalisation and liquidity; manageable credit risk of the corporate and household sectors; and effective and improved risk management systems. As of year-end 2019, the Islamic bank and the Islamic trust fund continued to account for a major portion of total banking sector assets (65.1 per cent), deposits (65.6 per cent), and loans/financing (60.8 per cent).
Conventional banks account for the remaining banking sector assets (34.9 per cent), deposits (34.4 per cent) and loans/financing (39.2 per cent).
The performance of the banking industry also grew in overall assets by 1.5 per cent, deposits by 2.3 per cent and loans/financing by 7.6 per cent compared to 2018. In terms of amount, these stood at BND18.6 billion, BND15.7 billion, and BND5.9 billion respectively.
In order to evaluate the resilience of the country’s banking system in facing potential macro-financial shocks, AMBD conducted its first annual top down macro stress test. The stress test was conducted by assuming stressed scenarios such as a decline in quarterly GDP by various percentage points and their impact on non-performing loans/financing (NPLF) and the resultant impact on the capital adequacy. Overall, the test demonstrated that Brunei’s banking system is resilient and its capital adequacy ratio (CAR) continues to be well above minimum regulatory requirement of 10 per cent for all shock scenarios.
Stress testing is a critical element of risk management for banks and a core tool for banking supervisors and macroprudential authorities. Suitable stress tests can alert bank management and supervisory authorities on unexpected adverse outcomes arising from a wide range of risks. It also provides an indication of the financial resources that might be needed to absorb losses should large shocks occur.
From a humble shop lot office in 1994 to becoming the largest conventional bank in Brunei Darussalam, Baiduri Bank has grown in strides over its 25 years of operation and its achievements have been recognised by numerous international publications.
According to Ti Eng Hui, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Baiduri Bank, “Our successes and position in the economy can be attributed towards our commitment to local projects, interests and clients, our responsiveness to react to changes and the foresight to anticipate changes in the global and regional economy, as well as our global outlook.”
Baiduri Bank’s core businesses comprise Retail Banking, Corporate and Institutional Banking. Its wholly owned subsidiaries Baiduri Finance and Baiduri Capital specialise in consumer financing and investment solutions respectively.
In keeping with the digital banking movement, Baiduri Bank has developed several mobile applications and online platforms for individuals and businesses such as Baiduri b.Digital Personal and Business i-Banking. The bank’s subsidiary, Baiduri Finance, also offers a standalone mobile app called the Baiduri Finance Mobile App primarily for hire purchase payments among others.
Among their other digital innovations is the introduction of Brunei’s first online securities trading platform. “Through our subsidiary, Baiduri Capital, we provide the opportunity for our customers to invest in major stock markets including Singapore, Hong Kong (including the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect), Malaysia and the United States,” Ti explained. “Our secure online trading portal allows customers to obtain quotes, place orders and review their account status and balance at their convenience.”
Baiduri Bank is the first and only bank in Brunei to offer an e-payment solution through MerchantSuite, an online platform facilitating the issuance of invoices and card payments without requiring an e-commerce website. MerchantSuite enables local small and medium enterprises to extend their market reach by allowing shoppers to pay online with any Visa, Mastercard or American Express cards.
Baiduri Bank has also partnered with one of Brunei’s largest telecommunications providers, DST, to launch an e-wallet. With this partnership, Baiduri Bank and DST aim to create the largest digital ecosystem in Brunei with connectivity to regional and international payment platforms.
In terms of data security, Baiduri Bank is the first and only bank in Brunei to be PCI-DSS certified, upholding the global data security standard for processing, transmitting and storing cardholder data. Baiduri Bank is certified to the latest industry standard, PCI-DSS Version 3.2.1.
In line with the nation’s agenda to build a highly skilled workforce, Baiduri Bank has invested heavily towards human capital development.
“We have an agreement with world renowned Moody’s Analytics for the provision of a structured e-learning solution for our employees under various divisions of the bank. This is a first of its kind for a Brunei bank,” said Ti.
Other initiatives include the implementation of SAP Success Factors, a world-leading provider of human capital management systems, as well as the launch of the Baiduri Management Associate Programme, aimed to provide a solid foundation in banking through job rotations under the guidance of experienced managers.
Baiduri Bank continues to play an active role in various local business development programmes. In partnership with Darussalam Enterprise (DARe), the bank has introduced the Baiduri SME Empowerment Series. According to the CEO, the initiative is aimed at implementing a series of skills training workshops designed to complement existing training programmes offered by DARe.
Baiduri Bank also offers a wide range of solutions for local SMEs including Working Capital Financing, Instalment Loan, Property Loan as well as trade financing options such as Indent Financing and Account Receivables Financing. Other products designed to serve SMEs include business credit cards, payroll processing and other day-to-day banking services such as fund transfers and bill payments.
With regards to the COVID-19 pandemic, the CEO said, “We activated our Business Continuity Plan (BCP) for a pandemic on March 12, 2020 after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. But prior to the activation of BCP, Baiduri Bank had already begun taking precautionary steps as early as January, when Singapore announced its first confirmed case.”
The bank activated split operations with alternate teams working in separate physical locations away from the primary site. All branches and subsidiaries were sanitised, with mandatory temperature screening, social distancing measures and fabricating acrylic shields at teller counters to form a protective barrier. The bank also provided personal care kits for all employees.
In support of efforts led by the Ministry of Finance and Economy and the Autoriti Monetari Brunei Darussalam (AMBD) to assist individuals and businesses during the COVID-19 outbreak, Baiduri Bank has introduced several support measures to mitigate the impact.
For eligible individuals who are financially affected by the pandemic, the bank introduced a deferment of principal payment for personal and mortgage/property loans, an option to convert credit card balances to term loans and deferment of Hire Purchase principal payments through Baiduri Finance.
The bank’s support measures for corporate clients include a deferment of loan principal repayments for companies in all business sectors. Businesses under eligible categories were given waivers of fees and charges for trade and payment transactions.
Baiduri Bank also implemented fee waiver for online fund transfers between local banks to encourage the use of digital channels such as online or mobile banking or via the ATMs, in line with safe distancing measures.
Baiduri Bank launched its refreshed brand in September 2020, following an intensive year-long process of planning, research and assessment in partnership with an international team of brand consultants.
Ti said, “Our community, and the world around us, is changing and we too must change with it. As we prepare ourselves for the next phase of growth, we want to take the opportunity to have a closer look at our core capabilities in the context of the changing world, and ask ourselves how we can redefine our vision to be stay relevant, and to better communicate the strengths and values that make Baiduri unique. We also want to rally our people behind a shared purpose, so they are inspired to do their best to create meaningful impact in the communities we serve.”
Well-positioned for sustainable growth Baiduri Bank’s global outlook coupled with deep local insights, strong commitment to the domestic market and quick adoption of new technologies have contributed to its success as one of the leading conventional banks in Brunei.
The bank fully supports the AMBD’s Digital Payment Roadmap in creating a digital payment ecosystem by 2025. With plans to continue developing its electronic payment capabilities and e-banking services, the bank is on course to be a leading player in the country’s digital banking realm.
With a strong credit rating of BBB+/A-2 from Standard and Poor’s coupled with high liquidity, Baiduri Bank is well-positioned to capture opportunities in the market and drive sustainable growth as one of the leading and preferred financial partners of Bruneian businesses and consumers.
Over the past year, as Brunei Darussalam continued to manage the unprecedented outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, both government agencies and the private sector rallied together to provide support for the nation.
Realising that a whole-of-nation approach is key to the success of national and community building agenda, Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam (BIBD), throughout the challenging period, demonstrated its commitment as a Partner in Progress in helping the nation curb the risks of further outbreak of the virus as well as cushion its impact on the Sultanate.
“There is no denying that COVID-19 has presented a unique challenge, but as far as the financial management is concerned, we sought to ensure that the essential needs of our customers are well-served, assets wellprotected, and interests well-aligned,” BIBD Managing Director and CEO, Mubashar Khokhar said.
BIBD remained vigilant throughout the outbreak period and strictly implemented various precautionary measures in line with the recommendations and directives set by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and the Ministry of Health (MoH) to assure the safety of its customers, employees and the public.
Through the “Go Digital Go Cashless” campaign, BIBD encouraged the use of its BIBD NEXGEN Wallet, which enables banking transactions to be carried out digitally via mobile phones and online, to minimise the need for physical interaction and over-the-counter transactions during the outbreak.
For example, the BIBD Aspirasi savings programme has enabled customers to continue saving through the BIBD NEXGEN Wallet, minimising the need to physically interact and transact during the height of the pandemic. The programme, which is now in its third edition, is a unique investment programme that allows customers to earn attractive dividends from their savings and have a chance to be winners in the monthly, quarterly and grand prize draw.
Just like the campaign’s previous two editions, the BIBD Aspirasi 3 was introduced to support national and AMBD’s objectives to promote a savings culture and prudent money management among the people of Brunei.
Additionally, BIBD played a major role in supporting a collective economic relief package of BND250 million for 12 months which was announced by the Ministry of Finance and Economy (MoFE). This included fee waivers for inter-bank fund transfers, principal payment deferment, restructuring of facilities and credit card conversion to personal financing or Easy Payment Plan (EPP).
BIBD also launched various initiatives and corporate social responsibilities (CSR) programmes that helped many affected customers and individuals get back on their feet or start new ventures to ease the burdens caused by the pandemic.
When schools transitioned to online learning or virtual schooling to curb the risks of further outbreak of COVID-19 in the country, it was important for BIBD to ensure that the bright but underprivileged students were not left behind.
Assistance was extended to the bank’s ALAF students, where their education needs were provided by stakeholders such as Progresif, who contributed in the form of mobile broadband dongles and three months’ worth of broadband connectivity. The provision of broadband connectivity enabled the students to access their online teaching materials and video conferencing sessions with their teachers.
At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, BIBD also unveiled its latest CSR initiative, ‘Community for Brunei’, a virtual marketplace designed to help small businesses, highlighting different social and charitable causes to the heart of Brunei. This initiative was launched with close collaboration between the bank, start-ups like Think Axis, The Collective, Alicia Newn and logistics companies, and government agencies.
Community for Brunei’s first project was ‘Community for COVID’, a way for members of the public to support medical frontliners through the virtual marketplace and assist small businesses in Brunei to expand their ability to earn. Customers were able to purchase food and beverages, care packages and services from the platform that were delivered directly to frontliners at various hospitals across the country. Uniquely, the exact needs of frontliners at medical centres and hospitals throughout the country would be informed to the public through an online tally.
Through the same platform, BIBD also launched ‘Community for Ramadhan’ – a virtual ‘Gerai Ramadhan’ which enabled customers to purchase food and drinks from vendors who typically participated in the yearly Ramadhan stalls organised by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) and the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports (MCYS).
BIBD Chief Marketing Officer, Hajah Nurul Akmar binti Haji Mohd Jaafar said that the spread of COVID-19 has disrupted communities, businesses and livelihoods, both locally and worldwide.
“Alhamdulillah, BIBD is proud to be part of an initiative that will enable individuals to come together for collective action, extending assistance to those in need while at the same time, protecting the livelihood of our local MSMEs,” she said.
She also hoped that Community for Brunei will become the premier destination for local businesses, enabling them to scale and grow while at the same time, allowing a place for the public to give back to the community as well as create a digitalised society powered by a cashless economy.
Furthermore, it is also hoped that the platform will provide a place for various non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to initiate community works and causes as well as allow them to congregate digitally and work towards a common goal in serving the community and supporting Brunei Vision 2035.
Apart from Community for Brunei, BIBD continued its efforts in supporting the MoH combat the spread of COVID-19 by handing over BND296,160 to the COVID-19 Relief Fund, from the General Maslahat Fund which is managed by BIBD as per BIBD Shariah Advisory Body guidelines. The donations were for the purchase of 5,000 wrist bands, six ventilators and 21 electric beds for the National Isolation Centre. This contribution by BIBD is just part of the bank’s support of the MoH in the fight against COVID-19. Among others, BIBD also helped raise public awareness on the importance of being socially responsible by promoting information on preventive measures against COVID-19 through social media, radio, TV and print.
BIBD was a keen supporter of the MoFE in the launch of the COVID-19 Relief Fund. Thus, the bank facilitated easy payment of donations via BIBD QuickPay or fund transfer, both methods that could be carried out without physically going to a branch. By July 2020, the fund had collected BND14.5 million. When schools nationwide began re-opening as part of the second phase of de-escalation, the bank also donated hand sanitisers, gloves and face masks to the Ministry of Education (MoE) and the Ministry of Religious Affairs (MoRA) to assist these agencies in ensuring the health, safety and well-being of students and teachers as they returned to school.
BIBD’s contributions signify the bank’s commitment to being a Partner in Progress through its ongoing support for the Government of 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 towards achieving key strategic initiatives that will benefit the nation as a whole. BIBD also remains keen to heighten and multiply its cooperation with various stakeholders from public and private sectors as it continues its journey to position itself as the best Islamic Bank in Asia-Pacific while at the same time supports Brunei’s economic and social development.
Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) is the largest international bank in Brunei Darussalam with 63 years of presence in the country. In addition to Brunei, SCB operates in 60 markets across the globe, driving commerce and prosperity for people and businesses in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
A key differentiator for SCB is, undeniably, its global network. With global trade at risk of a slow recovery due to the pandemic, it is more crucial now than ever for businesses to seek opportunities through diversification and digitising their infrastructure – and with SCB’s global network and expertise, the bank can help share insights and leverage on global expertise for local solutions. As a global bank, SCB is held to high international industry standards, with a robust risk management framework governed by local and international regulations.
ASEAN stands out as an investment destination especially as governments in the region have announced various economic stimulus plans to support growth.
As the world works together to combat COVID-19 and governments unveil stimulus packages to jumpstart economies, adapting business models to changing environments is critical to growth and employment.
As the only international bank present in all 10 ASEAN markets, SCB has developed a unique understanding of the region and needs across the markets.
With Brunei chairing ASEAN this year, SCB looks forward to supporting the themes and opportunities which may arise from the position.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the resilience of people and businesses that have been able to adapt and pivot new ways of working and SCB is no different in recognising and accelerating on the launch of Future New WoW focussing on three main pillars: Future Workplace, Future Skills and Future Norms.
Over the course of 2020, the bank has learned to push the boundaries of what it means to work virtually, while proving that it is still possible to deliver the highest standards for its clients. Flexible working for a high percentage of its workforce is a commitment the bank has made across its network with the intent to implement a hybrid approach, combining virtual and officebased working with greater flexibility in working patterns and locations, laying out its intention to evolve its Future Workplace offerings.
When the COVID-19 pandemic peaked in Brunei, more than 40 per cent of SCB staff worked from home to keep safe and maintain social distancing.
Aside from physical working options, the bank also places a large emphasis on Future Skills. With a large catalogue of curated learning modules available to all colleagues online, SCB staff can take their learning and development in their own hands and are not limited to physical or face-to-face type of learning. The approach encourages staff to be agile and resilient to change, therefore adapting to Future Norms.
For the seventh time, SCB was awarded the Best Digital Bank Brunei in 2020 by Global Finance. 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.
SCB is the only bank where clients can view their whole investment portfolio and manage their cards via a mobile app. The award-winning SC Mobile app services include PIN change, new card activation, convert eligible credit card transactions to zero per cent EasyPay instalment plans, report lost or stolen cards and perform credit card balance refunds, to name a few.
With the rise of fraudulent activities preying on vulnerable people, SCB has also enhanced its controls on payment and fund transfer transactions, ensuring the financial safety of its clients.
Building a sustainable and stable business has always been a foundation pillar of the bank’s strategy. This not only provides stability for the business but also for the community that the bank operates in.
SCB launched the world’s first Sustainable Deposit to European investors in May 2019 and received a positive reaction from the market. Every dollar deposited will be referenced against sustainable assets that support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
In Brunei, SCB is the only bank to currently offer the first Sustainable and Responsible Investing (SRI) fund. 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.
The digitisation of SCB services and processes offers opportunities to go paperless and reduce carbon output from driving to visit a physical branch. It also aligns with SCB clients’ need for convenience and the country’s aspirations to promote digitisation in order to be future ready and achieve a sustainable development for the country. During the height of the pandemic, adapting to digital operations presented challenges to the marginalised groups of the community. With a focus on tackling inequality and supporting the disadvantaged youth, Futuremakers by Standard Chartered identified a need to provide students with online learning devices during the school closure in Brunei. SCB donated 120 laptops with data top-up cards to 120 students amounting to a value of BND50,000.
With a history spanning over 100 years, Bank of China (Hong Kong) or BOCHK is the leading commercial banking group in Hong Kong with strong market positions in all major businesses. BOCHK has an extensive branch network and diverse service platforms in Hong Kong, including more than 190 branches, 280 ATMs, over 1,000 self-service machines, as well as Internet and mobile banking services. 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 Darussalam.
In December 2016, BOCHK officially opened its branch in Brunei, serving as the first Chinese financial institution to establish its footprint in the country.
The establishment of a BOCHK branch in Brunei signifies the country’s strong bilateral relations with China, especially in trade and finance. It also illustrated BOCHK’s efforts to expand into the ASEAN market, a key region in China’s One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative.
Located in the Kiarong Jaya Complex, 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 ranked among the top five banks in Southeast Asia, with total assets of more than USD150 billion. Maybank has an international network of over 2,200 branches and offices in 20 countries, employing 46,000 employees who serve over 22 million customers.
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 Darussalam as its first overseas unit in November 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. The bank won Best Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Bank Brunei in 2017, awarded by Capital Finance International, UK. In 2017, Maybank Brunei was awarded the Fastest Growing Foreign Bank in Brunei by the Global Banking and Finance Review, UK for the third consecutive year.
Founded in 1935, United Overseas Bank (UOB) has charted steady growth over the years to establish 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. The bank provides a wide range of financial services including personal financial services, private banking, commercial and corporate banking, investment banking, corporate finance, capital market activities, treasury services, futures broking, asset management, venture capital management, insurance and stockbroking services.
In 1974, UOB started its operations in Brunei Darussalam 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. On October 1, 2005, the bank relocated its branch office in Bandar Seri Begawan.
In 2015, UOB Brunei divested its retail banking business. 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.
UOB Brunei was named Brunei International Project Finance Bank of the Year 2019 at the Asian Banking & Finance Corporate and Investment Banking Awards. The UOB Group received a total of 13 awards at the combined awards ceremony.
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 ormer 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. It is presently located at Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Complex, Bandar Seri Begawan.
In an effort to get closer to the community, RHB Bank Berhad Brunei has been conducting RHB Touch Hearts and the group had raised more than MYR1.2 million over the past years, which has benefitted more than 20,000 across the areas RHB Group is operating in.
Moving forward, RHB Berhad 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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