Baiduri Bank launches new online services for Brunei’s businesses
Quick and easy online payments for micro-enterprises among Baiduri's digital innovations, says Pierre Imhof
Bruneians demand sophisticated banking products, says Baiduri Bank CEO Pierre Imhof. They are wealthy, they travel the world, and they expect the same quality and ease of banking at home as overseas. Pierre explains how Baiduri steps up to this challenge: from a series of technological firsts in the retail space, to online merchant services with the highest security available for SMEs and larger corporates.
Click through to the second part of our interview with Pierre, where he discusses Baiduri’s soon-to-open stock exchange.
World Finance: Brunei’s stock exchange is scheduled to open later this year, sparking renewed international interest in the small – but wealthy – island nation. The initiative should help the government’s ongoing efforts to diversify the economy. Joining me is Baiduri Bank’s Pierre Imhof.
How are the diversification efforts going?
Pierre Imhof: The diversification process for the last two years, with the change in oil and gas prices, has become an absolute priority. So the government has intensified their effort for diversification, and banks are playing a major role in this process: mainly targeting SMEs, and secondly the foreign direct investments.
These initiatives are an absolute priority within the Wawasan 2035, which is the government’s long-term development plan to create a nation which is healthy and financially sustainable.
World Finance: How is Baiduri Bank playing a role in that?
Pierre Imhof: We are very eager to finance the short-term needs of companies; we are also very eager to finance some of their long-term needs, to develop their business, to finance a new project, etc.
We know our clients well, the relationship is very personalised. We understand their needs, we are able to proffer solutions which correspond to their needs.
For example, for very small enterprises we have launched a product called MerchantSuite, which is offering to our small clients the possibility to transact online, to receive payments online without having to create their own website.
World Finance: Attracting foreign direct investment, another important role that banks need to play in the diversification efforts; how are you achieving that?
Pierre Imhof: The whole banking system in Brunei is very strong, and Baiduri Bank is no exception. Baiduri Bank has a very strong capital, and this definitely assures foreign direct investors when they come that they will find in Brunei a bank which is able to support them, a range of services which is of good quality, and in which they may put their confidence.
Another element is, banking with the highest level of security is very important for all clients. Baiduri Bank has been the first bank in Brunei to have developed PCI-DSS standard, which is a very high level of security for protecting data.
World Finance: You mentioned the trend towards digital services earlier; what other kinds of additional services are businesses – whether home-grown or coming from overseas – demanding from banks?
Pierre Imhof: We see, as I mentioned, more demand from companies to make their transactions, their transfers, through internet banking.
When they have retail clients, they like to offer services online. And banks behind the scenes are offering the technology to allow these companies to process their payments online.
What I think we’ll see more and more is development of new methods of payments, and we are working in order to offer in the future to our clients these new methods of payment.
World Finance: And what are the latest trends in the retail banking environment in Brunei?
Pierre Imhof: The Brunei retail market is, for banks, quite sophisticated. Bruneians are wealthy. They travel. They know what’s happening all around the world. So we have to be always very advanced in terms of our offer of products in the retail segment.
We are the first bank, many years ago, to offer internet banking services; and mobile banking is an area where we move fast, and where we are developing strongly our presence.
And in Brunei we have been also the first bank to launch PayWave, this new technology: our clients like to tap, pay, and go.
These are technologies that we are using more and more in Brunei for our retail clients.
World Finance: Pierre, thank you very much.
Pierre Imhof: Thank you.