The virtual ABTC showcased a digital version of the APEC Business Travel Card on a mobile application, thereby facilitating cardholders to present their virtual card to enter an APEC economy, according to a written statement issued by the APEC Business Mobility Group and received here on Thursday.
"Our objective is to make traveling under the APEC Business Travel Card scheme more secure, efficient, convenient, and user-friendly, particularly as APEC members are looking for safe and effective measures to open up borders and resume international travel," Kimberlee Stamatis, convenor of the APEC Business Mobility Group, overseeing the scheme, stated.
The Virtual ABTC encompasses security features, such as user verification, the use of holographic watermarks, and disabling of screenshots within the mobile application to ensure authenticity of the cardholder.
It also offers real-time connectivity to the internet, providing speedy updates of pre-clearance information required for entry into APEC economies.
"Each APEC economy will determine its own timeline to transition to the virtual ABTC for its cardholders. Cardholders from transitional members will not have access to the digital service for now. However, the existing processes will remain unchanged," Stamatis stated.
Stamatis, concurrently the director at Australia’s Department of Home Affairs, noted that Australia will be the first economy to transition to the digital service for all Australian cardholders from March 2021.
"We really look forward to seeing other economies transition as soon as possible thereafter," she affirmed.
In order to support member economies’ transition to the new digital service, the process for issuing Virtual ABTCs has been streamlined to align with existing operations with as little alteration as necessary.
Some 19 APEC economies are fully participating members of the ABTC scheme: Australia; Brunei Darussalam; Chile; China, Hong Kong, China; Indonesia; Japan; South Korea; Malaysia; Mexico; New Zealand; Papua New Guinea; Peru; the Philippines; the Russian Federation; Singapore; Chinese Taipei; Thailand; and Vietnam.
Meanwhile, Canada and the United States are transitional members.
The APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC) scheme facilitates short-term business travel within the APEC economies by streamlining the entry process at ports of entry within the region. Approved applicants are issued a card that functions as the entry authority to fully participating economies.
The scheme lowers travel costs between APEC economies by 38 percent for cardholders and businesses pay 27 percent less in application fees and 52 percent less in immigration processing.
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