BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – As more consumers and businesses seek convenient cross-border payment options, cybersecurity plays a major role in facilitating trade.

According to a 2018 e-commerce survey by the Authority for Info-Communications Technology (AITI), more than 50 percent of its respondents experienced problems including fraudulent cases and technical issues with payment.

The survey noted that majority of the 1,000 respondents use their credit and debit card as means for online payment and 36 percent of e-commerce users in Brunei prefer bank transfers over other payment options.

Acknowledging the risky nature of cross-border payments and to ensure safety and user confidence, Standard Chartered Bank (StanChart) practices stringent security protection and lines of defence against cyber attacks.

This includes investing in top talent and securing industry partners to ensure high level security expertise. It also invests in innovative and secure technology for a robust bank-wide protection.

In 2017, the Brunei Emergence Computer Response Team (BruCert) recorded more than 2,000 cybersecurity attacks. Although not all attacks incur financial losses, these incidents can affect ICT infrastructure such as bandwidth, and negatively impact a company’s brand. Most of the data breaches in Brunei occur due to poor ICT security infrastructure and failure to maintain up-to-date systems.

Committed to providing convenient, secure payment options

In terms of cross-border payment, government data show that China is Brunei’s number one origin of imported goods — accounting for 47 percent — indicating the high volume of trade needing to transact in Renminbi (RMB) and US dollars.

StanChart, the only international bank in Brunei that currently provides Business Banking facilities and trade solutions for SMEs, said that the majority of local SMEs revolve around imports as opposed to exports.

“With our strong presence in most major importing countries, we will be able to expedite import transactions faster and more efficiently,” said Jacky Teo, head of Business Banking, adding that it also provides full payment and collection services in RMB where clients are able to open a RMB account to remit and receive payments in RMB.

“The USD remains one of our most traded currency used for China’s imports. With our Multi-Tiered Interest Rate in US Dollar account and our Smart Business Account solutions, clients will be able to remit and receive payments in USD.”

With StanChart’s Multi-Tiered Interest Rate in US Dollar account, customers can enjoy lower costs for sending payments overseas and accumulate interest on their USD to offset fluctuations in the market.

Asides facilitating smooth cross-border transactions, using its global platform called Straight2Bank, the bank is also committed to help local businesses to grow and gain an edge by leveraging on the its network and experience.

International experience, network to help your business grow

Being the only bank in Brunei with an established presence in the Belt and Road initiative — with 70 percent of its global footprint comprising Belt and Road markets — StanChart’s business clients stand to benefit by hingeing on its extensive network through its trade services and products.

According to StanChart, the initiative has the capacity to transform economies along its routes, with Asia standing to benefit the most from infrastructure investments.

As an example, StanChart inked a memorandum of understanding last year with China Development Bank to facilitate trade and investment to China’s Belt and Road Initiative to the value of at least US$20 billion by 2020.

“In the ASEAN region, China’s presence has grown over the last two years, with FDI nearly doubling between 2014 and 2015,” the bank noted.

As for intra-regional trade within ASEAN, a Bain & Company’s research showed it is predicted to value at US$1 trillion by 2025. Among the 10 member countries, Singapore is Brunei’s biggest trading partner followed by Malaysia and Thailand.