ASEAN is one of the fastest-growing regions in the world and continues to offer long-term great potential, and one of the fastest-growing digital economies in the world.
Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance and Economy II Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah in his opening keynote address of the ASEAN Business and Investment Roundtable 2021 on Fintech and Financial Literacy shared the COVID-19 pandemic has led to big shifts across Southeast Asia.
Based on Bain & Company’s e-Conomy Southeast Asia report, it highlighted that 40 million people came online for the first time last year, bringing the total number of Internet users in the region to 400 million.
The Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia pointed out that ASEAN consumers are global leaders in terms of e-wallets and digital payment adoption.
“This offers great opportunities but also challenges as we must keep inclusivity in mind and ensure that with the rapid rate of technological change it does not leave anyone behind,” he said.
“Financial Literacy plays a critical role on inclusivity. Not only is it important to understand money and the changing nature of transactions, both for personal and business purposes but digital financial literacy has become essential if we are to achieve our goals of ensuring that everyone can benefit from the advancements in Fintech,” he added.
Many ASEAN countries including Brunei are still grappling with the spread and impact of the pandemic on our lives and livelihoods and are forced to be innovative, nimble and responsive to this current environment.
With Brunei’s theme for the Chairmanship of ASEAN this year, ‘We Care. We Prepare. We Prosper’, the minister explained it is designed to demonstrate an inclusive response in dealing with the pandemic and help ASEAN get back and thrive in a new normal.
As Chair of ASEAN, the minister is looking forward to seeing discussions reflecting both the strategic thrusts and a number of the Priority Economic Deliverables.
He also highlighted the discussions that will contribute towards the work on e-Commerce, Cyber-Security, the ASEAN Framework Agreement on Services that focuses on Financial Services Liberation and specifically on Financial Literacy for the upcoming Summit planned at the end of this year in conjunction with ASEAN Savings Day 2021.
“ASEAN Governments are continuing to meet virtually to discuss what steps can be taken to help our region continue to be vibrant as we draw closer to the Summit in October. I look forward to hearing the outcomes of the discussion and including them in our discussions with my Ministerial colleagues in the coming month,” said the minister.