The cross-border payments and settlement system for Arab countries is now fully operational and facilitating transactions in multiple currencies, the Arab Monetary Fund (AMF) announced on Monday.

Plans to roll out the Buna platform were first revealed in 2017, with the goal to empower economies in the region and promote regional integration, by encouraging the use of Arab currencies in cross-border settlement and clearance transactions.

Its technical platform was launched in February 2020.

The first live payment was finally executed on the platform recently. The transaction was in UAE dirhams and it was done between Mashreq Bank in the UAE ang Banque Misr in Egypt.

Buna is now in the process of expanding its network, with more than 120 banks currently in the process to onboard, a statement released on Monday said.

“We are proud and happy to announce that Buna payment system is now fully operating, and capable to perform as a multicurrency platform that process cross-border payments in eligible Arab and international currencies in real time,” said Abdulrahman A. Al Hamidy, director general and chairman of the board at the AMF.

“The successful first live payment transaction is a strong testament of our commitment to deliver on time and demonstrate Buna’s ability to function within the set requirements and as by the promised high-level standards, despite unprecedented difficult times and global challenging conditions.”

According to Ahmed Abdelaal, group chief executive officer of Mashreq, AMF has a “pioneering vision” to not only facilitate cross-border payments in the Arab world but also to integrate with other regional market infrastructure.

“This will drive harmonisation and standardisation to expand the coverage more globally and make cross-border payments much safer and faster,” he added.

(Writing by Cleofe Maceda; editing by Seban Scaria)

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