The State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) hosted the 57th SEACEN Governors’ Conference / High-Level Seminar and the 41st Meeting of the SEACEN Board of Governors (BOG) on 6 December 2021.[1] In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the SEACEN BOG Meeting was convened virtually for the second year in a row.

While there has been considerable progress in the SEACEN members’ respective response and recovery efforts in 2021, particularly on vaccination rates, many of the longer-term ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic remain. Governors and Managing Directors as well as delegates from SEACEN member Central Banks and Monetary Authorities acknowledged the deep economic and financial impact of the pandemic, as well as the possible scarring effects on the global economy, including on the economies of SEACEN members. Governors also re-affirmed their commitment to continue supporting the fight against COVID-19, through leveraging the SEACEN community to enhance their respective policy responses on macro, fiscal, financial, and structural fronts.

The 41st Meeting of the SEACEN BOG was accompanied by a High-Level Seminar with the theme “Digitalisation of the Financial System – Implications for Central Banks”. Following the welcome remarks by Mrs. Nguyen Thi Hong, Governor, State Bank of Vietnam, the first of two sessions was moderated by Mrs. Gillian Tett (Chair of the Editorial Board and Editor-At-Large, US; Financial Times). Mr. Naveen Mellela, Global Head of Coin Systems, Onyx by JP Morgan and Mr. Jason Ekberg, Partner, Oliver Wyman, spoke on “Blockchain Technology Redefining Banking and Digitalisation of Money and Payments”. This was followed by Professor Eswar Prasad, Tolani Senior Professor of International Trade Policy at Cornell University and Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution, who spoke on “The Future of Money: How the Digital Revolution is Transforming Currencies and Finance”. The second session, moderated by Professor Douglas Arner (University of Hong Kong), featured remarks and sharing of views and experiences by Mr. Agustin Carstens, General Manager, Bank for International Settlements; Mr. Eddie Yue, Chief Executive, Hong Kong Monetary Authority; Mr. Benjamin Diokno, Governor, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas; Mr. Adrian Orr, Governor, Reserve Bank of New Zealand; and Mr. Perry Warjiyo, Governor, Bank Indonesia. Both sessions were followed by a lively panel discussion and comments from SEACEN Governors. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated to a higher degree the digitalisation of financial services, including more day-to-day use of digital forms of money as well as immense interest in Central Bank Digital Currencies. Financial technology (FinTech) companies are making inroads into domestic financial markets and challenging the activities traditionally reserved for financial institutions. While providing innovative new ways of engaging with the public, these transformational changes of the financial system may give rise to central banks’ monetary and financial stability concerns in the long run. Financial regulatory authorities are required to pragmatically manage policy trade-offs between (i) stability and integrity; (ii) competition and efficiency; (iii) consumer protection and privacy; and (iv) interoperability of payments infrastructures. Speakers, panellists, and the SEACEN Governors discussed these issues, among others, paying particular attention to domestic and regional implications.

During the BOG meeting, members expressed their appreciation to the outgoing Chairman, H. E. Ms. Rokiah Badar, Managing Director, Brunei Darussalam Central Bank for her strong leadership of SEACEN in 2021. The Governors welcomed H. E. Ms. Nguyen Thi Hong as the new Chair of the SEACEN BOG, and thanked SBV for the excellent virtual arrangements in hosting this year’s meeting of the SEACEN BOG. In addition, the BOG approved the 2022 SEACEN financial budget, the training and research programmes, and other activities for 2022, as well as the ICT strategic plan and results of the organisation scorecard.

Governors accepted with appreciation the offer of the National Bank of Cambodia to host the 58th SEACEN Governors’ Conference/High-Level Seminar and the 42nd Meeting of the SEACEN Board of Governors in 2022.

[1] SEACEN comprises the 19 member central banks and monetary authorities of Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Hong Kong SAR, Korea, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Chinese Taipei, Thailand and Vietnam, as well as eight Associate Members and eight Observers.

Source: Bank of Papua New Guinea