How Asia is making a new push into e-payments

While the financial regulatory landscape in Asia is often fragmented, several governments in the region have been proactive over the last couple of years in encouraging electronic payments (e-payments).

Malaysia in 2015 looked to revamp its bill payment system by introducing its JomPAY service. Operated by MyClear, a subsidiary of Bank Negara Malaysia the service looks to develop an open electronic bills payment platform for consumers, banks and billers. Currently the platform has 42 banks and over a 1000 businesses registered on the system. JomPAY not only reduces the cost of transacting with cash and cheques but also allows a business to reduce multiple banking relationships.  

Aside for bill payments, tax collection is another area where Asian governments are looking to implement electronic solutions. The Vietnamese Ministry of Finance in 2015 instructed commercial banks to stop over-the-counter tax payments and work with tax agencies to create online portals to execute e-tax payments. Similarly the Indonesian Ministry of Finance last year launched its MPNG2 system, an automated tax management that aims to give taxpayers flexibility in payments and simplify the overall filing process.

India also last year saw the RBI (Reserve Bank of India) introduce its Unified Payments Interface (UPI) system, a tool that allows a user with multiple bank accounts to make payments via a single application. Currently the app is compatible with 29 banks including the likes of Axis Bank and ICICI Bank. Since UPI was announced, various online-based companies such as Indian e-commerce firm Paytm have worked to integrate themselves with UPI. According to the company, users can now add money to their Paytm wallets using their UPI ID.

In terms of future e-payment developments, countries such as Vietnam are deliberating on e-payment solutions for other parts of the government such as toll road payments. Speaking at e-payment forum last year, Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister, Vu Duc Dam said that there was a need for all ministries and relevant agencies to coordinate and connect with specific policies to promote electronic payments. 

Looking to enhance its UPI solution, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi this January announced a new digital payments app called BHIM based on UPI technology, which now allows users to send/receive money from other non-UPI accounts and generate a QR code for merchants to scan.       

Whether it be tax or utility payments, it is clear that Asian governments are looking to enhance their internal efficiency by leveraging on technology and it will be interesting to see how far governments can go with this.