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PETALING JAYA: Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) and Bank of Thailand (BOT) have invited banking institutions from Malaysia and Thailand to indicate their interest to be a Qualified Asean Bank (QAB) in both countries.

The invitation is pursuant to the bilateral arrangement under the Asean Banking Integration Framework (ABIF) between the two central banks which was concluded in April 2019.

The QABs are envisioned to facilitate greater intra-Asean trade and investment, in accordance with the Asean Economic Community Blueprint 2025 that aims to create an integrated and highly cohesive Asean economy.

BNM said that to ensure the financial stability of both countries, the QAB candidate, whether a new entrant or an existing bank in the host country, must be a strong and well managed bank that has its interest endorsed by the home country’s regulator; and comply with the host country’s prudential requirements.

Successful candidate will enjoy market access and operational flexibilities accorded under the bilateral arrangement.

The Malaysian central bank pointed out that this bilateral arrangement is a significant milestone in the journey towards Asean financial integration as envisioned under ABIF.

Towards this, the two regulators have launched the Cross-Border QR Payment Linkage between Thailand and Malaysia.

BNM’s governor, Datuk Nor Shamsiah Yunus, commented that the arrangement signifies the strengthening of economic ties between the two countries and it will benefit the people of Malaysia and Thailand, given the increase in banking convenience and greater access to a wider range of banking products.

“We are taking great strides towards creating an integrated and cohesive Asean economy, and we are confident that the QAB arrangement will foster more business opportunities and economic activities between the two countries to facilitate both our economic recoveries amidst the ongoing pandemic,” she said in a statement.

Her Thai counterpart, Sethaput Suthiwartnarueput, agreed that the QAB marks another important milestone for the long-standing partnership between the two countries, as well as Asean’s efforts towards deeper regional financial integration.

“The arrangement will bring about a wider range of high quality financial products that will better serve the needs of businesses and consumers in both countries. It is our aspiration to see QAB arrangements pave the way for further financial cooperation among Asean members as the region embraces new financial innovations,” he said.

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