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Grab-Singtel venture among winners of Malaysia's digital bank licences

Grab-Singtel venture among winners of Malaysia's digital bank licences

File photo. A man walks past the entrance of Central Bank of Malaysia (Bank Negara Malaysia) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Jul 31, 2019. (Photo: Reuters/Lim Huey Teng)

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia on Friday (Apr 29) awarded digital bank licences to five groups of companies, including some linked to e-commerce and gaming firm Sea, telecoms operator Axiata and ride-hailing firm Grab.

The central bank said in a statement it received a total of 29 applications for the licences, as companies looked to capitalise on Malaysia's growing fintech sector.

Nearly all adults in the country's 32 million population are smartphone users, government statistics showed last year.

The winning applicants for the licences included Boost Holdings, the fintech arm of Axiata, which teamed up with Malaysian banking group RHB Bank for the bid.

Others included a partnership between Sea and YTL Digital Capital, and a group led by GXS Bank, an alliance between Grab Holdings and Singtel.

Two consortia - led by Aeon Financial Service and KAF Investment Bank - will be licensed under Malaysia's Islamic Financial Services Act, Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) said.

BNM said the winners must undergo a period of operational readiness that will be audited by the central bank before they can commence operations - a process expected to take between 12 to 24 months.

The digital bank joint venture between Grab and Singtel was formed in 2020 and selected to be awarded a full digital banking licence in Singapore.

Grab and Singtel said in a joint press release on Friday that their digital bank joint venture will be led by Pei Si Lai, a financial services industry veteran with more than 25 years of experience.

"The digital bank to be established by the Malaysia digital bank consortium is expected to enable local micro-SMEs and other financially underserved segments such as gig economy workers to access a suite of financial services that will serve them through their lifecycle," the companies said.

Ms Lai has been appointed its CEO designate and will form a team of more than 200 roles to be filled by launch, including in the areas of product and design, data, technology, risk, and compliance.

 

Source: Reuters/CNA/aj

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