ASEAN Central Banks Working Committee on Payment and Settlement Systems (WC-PSS) Strategic Report to the ASEAN Central Bank Governors Meeting

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1 ASEAN Central Banks Working Committee on Payment and Settlement Systems (WC-PSS) Strategic Report to the ASEAN Central Bank Governors Meeting Introduction April The WC-PSS was endorsed at the ASEAN Central Bank Governors Meeting in Vietnam in April The committee s broad aim is to: a. Identify areas of improvement requiring Payment and Settlement Systems (PSS) development among ASEAN countries and; b. To formulate recommendations for the member countries where relevant in support of the continued integration of member s economies under the AEC 2015 blueprint and beyond. 2. The WC-PSS thus identified five key elements of PSS that would need to be examined: policy, legal framework, instrument, institution and infrastructure. With these five elements in mind, studies were conducted on five specific areas of payment and settlement systems to determine areas for future enhancement, development, and harmonization. The five areas were cross border trade settlement, cross border money remittance, cross border retail payment systems, cross border capital market settlement and standardisation. 3. This note summarises the results of the studies and their recommendations as well as WCPSS roadmap to achieve the long term strategic plan. A detailed report has been separately compiled. Vision Statement 4. To guide the WC-PSS work, the committee has crafted the following vision statement: ASEAN Payments aim to foster integrated, safe, and efficient payment and settlement systems in the region that enable businesses and individuals to make or receive electronic payments with greater convenience The WCPSS aims to improve the domestic payment infrastructure, promote more efficient cross border payment services than existing arrangements and ultimately the integration of systems in the region. Key Findings 5. For each of the five areas, a study was carried out to understand the current and expected conditions, identifying gaps and proposing recommendations to deal with the Page 1 of 5

2 gaps. The following are the key findings from each study and represent areas where improvements could be made: a. Trade Settlement Existing corresponding banking mechanism was adequate to accommodate demand. However, there are opportunities for improvements which would raise the efficiency levels of cross-border trade settlement in ASEAN by reducing foreign exchange spread and bank charges, and develop integrated regional payment infrastructure to support faster funds availability. b. Money Remittance Non-standardised remittance channels existed and efficiency levels varied. Further, informal non-regulated channels made consumer protection difficult. c. Retail Payment Systems Domestic retail payment systems in some countries are still fragmented resulting in non-interoperability among different providers. Inefficiency in the payment systems and opaque pricing mechanism made crossborder payments costly. d. Capital Market Settlement Varying market practices existed and hindered capital markets cross border settlement. e. Standardization Many ASEAN members had adopted various standards, which might make payment and settlement systems interoperability and inter-linkage more costly. Therefore, central banks shall play a central role in promoting the standardization to enable interoperability and inter-linkage among payment and settlement systems. Also, there is a need for greater sharing of expertise amongst members. Categories of Goals 6. To overcome the challenges of the above findings, each study recommended solutions that members could undertake either individually or as a group. A common theme across the studies was the need to promote the adoption of common standards which would enable the interoperability and inter-linkage among the various payments instruments and infrastructures, which would in turn improve cross-border payment and settlement. WC-PSS has therefore identified three broad categories of goals and prioritised them accordingly. Standardisation It was recognised in all studies that there was a variety of standards and systems in place within each member state. To facilitate efficient cross-border payments and settlement, the first step would be the adoption of common best practices and standards across systems. Such standards could be technical standards, market practices or regulatory standards. The latter, such as adequate legislation and policy may be easier to achieve and hence would be classed as short term goals, while other standards, such as electronic messaging, might have to follow medium term infrastructure developments. The key short term goal, therefore, would be identifying common standards for ASEAN to adopt. Page 2 of 5

3 Standardisation will form the foundation for all future PSS development and is thus the foremost goal. Improving existing infrastructure and payments environment The studies also recognised that members PSS are at different stages of development and thus would have different needs. WC-PSS acknowledged that the development of new systems could be potentially costly for some members. To minimise costs, the studies recommended that members, particularly those with less developed domestic PSS, should focus on improving their PSS to meet their economic needs. In doing so, members could take the opportunity to standardise their systems and be ready for the long term goal of regional integration. It follows that a needs analysis, possibly in the form of a score card, to determine what fits the needs of individual members best, should be conducted immediately for each of the five study areas. Exploring the option of PSS linkages within ASEAN In the long term, (beyond 2015) ASEAN would reach a state where common standards are in place and members PSS would be fairly developed. This would create an environment where ASEAN can seek to link up their PSS amongst each other and even to international systems. Full integration across the region would be a long term achievement. In the mean time members could study the feasibility of smaller scale pilot initiatives that could form the basis for the future. 7. To achieve these goals, ASEAN members should strive to support each other s development through capacity building or technical assistance. Also, WC-PSS is cognisant that PSS plays a supportive role to other developments in the economy particularly under the AEC 2015 blueprint. Hence, the WC-PSS has deliberately taken a longer term view of developments (beyond 2015) to ensure that initiatives are carefully aligned with real economic needs rather than being rushed by arbitrary timelines. The timelines stated in this paper, therefore, are guidelines rather than hard targets which have to be met. Roadmap Short-Mid Term Recommendations ( ) - Standardisation 8. Individual studies have identified many areas of PSS that require greater standardisation, formalisation and harmonisation. There are international standards that exist for some areas, while in other areas, it would fall upon members to identify best practices as a benchmark for services in the region. One key area under the Standardization study is that ASEAN should look to adopt IS for PSS for the financial services which could, in the future allow for more seamless integration. The other recommendations for the short-midterm are: Cross border trade settlement 9. The study proposed to create more transparency regarding the disclosure of bank charges (such as foreign exchange spread, handling fees) for cross border banking. Page 3 of 5

4 Greater disclosure of charges will reduce the cost of intra-asean trade particularly when transacting in foreign exchange; The region would see benefits when local currency transaction costs are brought down due to greater information and greater competition amongst banks. Money Remittance 10. In this study, proposals were for the adoption of policies to promote the use of formal/regulated channels, as well as greater transparency of remittance charges in enhancing consumer protection. Central banks could encourage the participation of regulated non-bank remittance service providers that could enter into rural unbanked areas. Retail Payments 11. This study highlighted that central banks should promote the adoption of international/common standards in retail payment systems as the foundation for interoperability between existing retail payment systems in the region. Moreover, to increase efficiency and to widen the usage of payment instruments, central banks might facilitate the development of common used instruments under regional scheme for retail payment systems. In order to ensure the effectiveness of the initiative, joint research among central banks could be useful. Capital Market Settlement 12. The study proposed the adoption of international standards for straight through processing in domestic and cross border settlements, and introducing risk mitigating measures such as delivery-vs-payments and payment-vs-payments if they are absent in certain domestic markets. 13. As mentioned in the earlier section, the immediate short-term goal should be to conduct a needs analysis that takes into account the varying states of the existing standards, infrastructure and environment in each member s country. These will then allow members to align their needs to the recommendations above, and work towards achieving the longer term goals without incurring excessive costs. The needs analysis should be done for each member across the five study areas. Mid- Long Term Recommendations ( ) Infrastructure and Environment Improvement 14. In the medium term, when ASEAN has achieved some degree of standardisation in the respective areas, members could work towards further improvements to PSS and market practices, in alignment with members' needs based on the outcome of the needs analysis. Specific initiatives include moving towards T+1 receipt of funds and improving infrastructure by establishing or expanding links in existing payment systems (e.g. APN). The mid-long term recommendations for each study areas are: Trade Settlement Page 4 of 5

5 15. For ASEAN to study possible mechanisms to achieve T+1 receipt of funds for cross border payments. The study also recommended promoting local currency settlement of trade through bilateral linkages amongst ASEAN 5 in line with member states relaxation of access to domestic currencies. Money Remittance 16. The study proposed exploring the feasibility of utilising existing regional networks (APN) for money remittance and expanding its reach to other members. Retail Payments Systems 17. In this study, WC-PSS should continue the initiative with facilitating the expansion of products, not only for ATM card, but also for debit card and credit card scheme, and services provided by the existing regional network, such as utilization for money remittance services. Capital Market Settlement 18. In this area, WC-PSS should work with the ASEAN Capital Market Forum (ACMF) and WC-Capital Market Development to assist in their respective implementation plans that might call upon WCPSS to help study various options for establishing regional infrastructure for capital market settlement. Long Term Recommendations (Beyond 2015) Exploring ASEAN PSS linkages 19. One of the mid-term goal identified by WCPSS above is the achievement of T+1 for receipt of funds across PSS within the region. In the longer term, the goal might be to achieve same day funds transfer within the region. This long term goal would ultimately require linkages to be formed between the various payments systems be it for retail payments, trade settlement or money remittance. At this point, the region is expected to have enhanced or developed systems that are interoperable since they adopt similar standards. What remains is to determine the form of linkages within ASEAN for each PSS area which would constitute the long term work goal of WCPSS. An example identified in the studies is the region s eventual participation in Continuous Linked Settlement (CLS) that would reduce FX settlement risk. Other linkages could be between automated clearing houses, RTGS or other. Capacity Building 20. Members are aware that different conditions exist in each country. The harmonization and the development of interoperability and inter-linkage among various PSS may require strategic and gradual planning based on the readiness of each individual country. The WC-PSS have thus identified capacity building as a parallel track to the above recommendations that should cut across all five study areas. WCPSS will act as the coordinator to find suitable solutions such as workshops and attachment programmes based on identified needs. Page 5 of 5

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