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Some challenges remain in the wider adoption of digital transactions. In many countries, outdated infrastructure is not able to handle big datasets originating from different sources or made available in different formats. Such compatibility and interoperability issues severely limit the types of transactions that can take place, requiring new and significant investment to connect systems and processes with one another. In this context, digital standards such as ISO20022 are essential to guarantee the longevity, sustainability, accessibility, and universality of digital ecosystem. Set by bodies like the International Standards Organisation (ISO) or EMVCo Technologies, digital standards play an important role in connecting infrastructure, systems, and software—promoting interoperability across technologies, industries, and even countries. For example, a common international standard for QR code systems for payments has been developed by EMVCo. Some Southeast Asian economies have adopted a national standardised QR code scheme aligned to EMVCo to encourage open infrastructure and drive interoperability, lowering entry barriers for new payment providers, and allowing digital transactions between different merchants (taxis, wet markets, street food vendors) as well as government transactions (social benefits).

Overall, internationally recognised digital standards have allowed data to be shared to more people and across more IT systems, both domestically and trans-nationally. From P2P/B2P/G2P transfers and merchant and bill payments to microloans and microinsurance, a wide range of digital transactions are enabled by digital standards. The case studies presented here provide a brief glimpse of some of these use cases as they are taking shape across ASEAN member states (AMS).

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