According to Abelardo “Billy” Cortez, IAFEI secretary and executive committee member, the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has a population of 622 million people and enjoys a rate of economic growth in excess of advanced economies.
Writing in the latest IAFEI Quarterly, Cortez says the AEC Blueprint calls for a smoothly-functioning regional financial system with more liberalised capital account regimes and inter-linked capital markets. This is easier said than done given the structural inefficiencies and vested interests embedded within the system.
The Blueprint calls for ASEAN members to expand cross-border cooperation agreements among their banking and financial institutions, focusing on common utilities for services such as electronic payments, and processes like fintech-bank payments, and trade finance using blockchain.
Proponents of ASEAN financial integration by 2025 have named three goals: financial integration, inclusion and stability. Cross-border concerns are capital account liberalisation, payment and settlement systems and capacity building.
Financial integration will be accelerated through increasing reliance on indigenous banks, and erecting a more integrated insurance and capital markets system.
Financial inclusion will be achieved through the delivery of financial products and services to a much wider community that has remained under-serviced, including micro, small and medium business enterprises.