Known Applicants for Malaysia Digital Bank Licences

The applicant groups include Grab, Singtel, Axiata Digital, RHB Bank, iFAST Corp, Bangkok Bank, BigPay, Sea Group, AEON Credit Service, Pertama Digital, and others.

BNM (Bank Negara Malaysia) on 30 June announced that it received 29 applications for a digital bank licence following a six-month application period.

The central bank issued its final licensing framework for digital banks in January, and expects to issue up to five licences.

“A diverse range of parties have submitted applications for the digital bank licence, ranging from banks, industry conglomerates, technology firms, e-commerce operators, FinTech players, cooperatives and state governments,” BNM said, not revealing the applicants.

According to local reports and stock exchange announcements, the applicants include:

  • a joint venture between Grab and Singtel
  • a consortium involving Singapore-based iFAST Corporation, credit-co-operative Koperasi Angkatan Tentera Malaysia Berhad, private investment holding company THZ Alliance, Chinese digital bank Yillion Fintech, and Lee Thiam Wah – the founder of grocery chain 99 Speed Mart
  • a consortium involving Malaysian conglomerate Sunway, Tencent-backed fintech Linklogis Inc, and Bangkok Bank
  • a consortium involving AirAsia’s fintech unit BigPay, Sea Group, Malaysian conglomerate YTL Corp, Malaysia Industrial Development Fund, and Ikhlas Capital
  • a joint venture between Axiata Digital and RHB Bank
  • a consortium involving tech company Green Packet, and financial services providers ZICO Holdings and M24 Tawreeq Sdn Bhd
  • a joint venture between AEON Credit Service and its parent company AEON Financial Service Co Ltd
  • a consortium involving Pertama Digital, banking-as-a-service provider INFOPRO, and SME-focused neobank Crowdo
  • a consortium involving PUC – which runs the digital ecosystem known as Presto – two state governments and a conglomerate
  • a consortium involving Star Media Group, property developer Paramount Corporation, RCE Capital, Prosper Palm Oil Mill, and an unnamed technology partner
  • a consortium involving MPay (Managepay Systems Bhd) unit ManagePay Services, and three local strategic partners

BNM requires digital banks to have MYR 300 million (USD 71.7 million) of capital funds, which is lower than similar regimes in Hong Kong and Singapore.

While foreign shareholders are allowed to hold a controlling equity interest in a digital bank, BNM has previously stated its preference that the controlling equity interest resides with Malaysian nationals.

Successful applicants that meet all prudential criteria will be expected to contribute towards greater financial inclusion by offering products and services to address market gaps in the underserved and unserved segments, BNM said.

“This includes promoting suitable and affordable financial solutions by leveraging on innovative application of technology.”

The successful applicants will be notified in the first quarter of 2022.

Currently, Malaysia’s banking sector is dominated by Maybank, CIMB and Public Bank.

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