The Autoriti Monetari Brunei Darussalam (AMBD) is a statutory body that acts as the central bank of Brunei Darussalam. It was formed under the Autoriti Monetari Brunei Darussalam Order 2010 and commenced operations in January 2011.
AMBD undertakes several core functions including the formulation and implementation of monetary policies, regulation and supervision of financial institutions and currency management.
To address the pandemic’s impacts on the economy, AMBD has been in active engagement with key stakeholders including the Ministry of Finance and Economy (MoFE) and the Brunei Association of Banks (BAB).
Several interim measures were introduced to alleviate the financial distress faced by local businesses and individuals. They included an agreement between AMBD and BAB to waive online local interbank transfer fees and charges to all bank customers from April 1 to October 1, 2020. This was further extended to March 31, 2021.
In an effort to develop the country’s financial services sector, AMBD launched the Digital Payment Roadmap for Brunei Darussalam 2019- 2025 on January 21, 2019.
The document underlines key strategies to develop digital payment services in the country and transform Brunei into a “Digital Payment Nation”. These strategies are in line with the Financial Sector Blueprint 2016-2025 (FSBP), which serves as a guide to the development of Brunei’s financial services industry.
One of the roadmap’s key initiatives is to develop a National Payment Hub that promotes interoperability and easy access to consumers and businesses in Brunei. Three key areas have been identified by AMBD to achieve this development.
The first key area requires the evolvement of existing payment regulations to maintain stability in the financial sector and promote collaboration among market players. This will also allow financial institutions and payment service providers to improve their financial services in the country.
Secondly, the roadmap aims to involve a greater adoption of digital payment solutions to promote market interoperability and encourage fair market competition. New and innovative technology can lower barriers to adoption and will offer secure and cost-effective payment mechanisms for acceptance of digital payments by merchants.
The last key area involves enhancing public awareness and education with regards to digital payments. The financial industry must work together to empower consumers with digital financial literacy, while enhancing cybersecurity to build trust and protect the consumers.
With these key strategies, AMBD aims to drive the digital transformation of the payments industry, in line with the country’s aspiration towards a dynamic and diversified economy.
AMBD marked several important milestones last year. In July 2020, AMBD signed two separate partnership service agreements (PSA) with local telecommunication service providers Datastream Digital Sdn Bhd (DST) and Progresif Sdn Bhd.
The PSA provides the provision of the submission of customer credit information to and from the credit bureau established by AMBD. It also provides access to the Credit Bureau’s Telco Report, which contains information about consumers’ creditworthiness and timely payment behaviour among the telecommunication service providers.
In August 2020, AMBD through the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) made headlines as the winner of the prestigious Best Egmont Case Award (BECA).
The Egmont Group of FIUs was established in 1995 to fight against money laundering and financing of terrorism through international cooperation. Since 2011, BECA has been held annually to recognise successful cases from which member-FIUs can learn and to appreciate real-life examples of cases that have been successfully prosecuted. The award is highly coveted among its 164 members of FIUs from all over the world.
Last year’s competition received 24 cases from 19 member FIUs. The case in which AMBD was chosen as a finalist was related to a trial involving criminal breach of trust and money laundering charges which concluded earlier in 2020. This marks only the second time an FIU in Southeast Asia has won this international award.
Over the years, AMBD has implemented several policies to modernise the payment arrangements in Brunei.
In November 2014, AMBD implemented the Real-Time Gross Settlement System (RTGS), an interbank funds transfer system for large and urgent payments. The system allows banks to transfer funds for themselves and on behalf of customers in real time.
Another implementation is the Automated Clearing House (ACH) which went live in May 2016. It enables electronic clearing of cheques, replacing the manual cheque processing system while also enabling other electronic payments.
As the country’s central bank, AMBD places cybersecurity of the utmost importance in the payment industry. In December 2015, AMBD issued the ICT Risk Management Guidelines to banks and finance companies.
The guidelines provide a comprehensive guidance to managing the risks associated with technology-based systems based on internationally recognised standards.
In addition to providing regulatory guidance for financial institutions, AMBD also conducts onsite and off-site assessments.
Aside from managing cybersecurity, AMBD also focusses on the development of financial technology (fintech) in Brunei. The AMBD FinTech Regulatory Sandbox was established in 2017, enabling companies and businesses to test their fintech products in a relaxed, regulatory environment.
The type of fintech products and services that are suitable for the sandbox include those in the areas of banking, capital markets and insurance or takaful. Also eligible are areas of finance within AMBD’s regulatory scope that has the potential to benefit consumers.
Copyright 2019 Borneo Bulletin Yearbook 2019 All rights reserved.