By Aaron Raj
Grab Holdings Limited and Singtel are among the five recipients of Malaysia’s digital banking license. GXS Bank Pte. Ltd, their digital bank joint venture, and a consortium of Malaysian investors including Kuok Brothers Sdn. Bhd are now subject to meeting all of Bank Negara Malaysia’s regulatory conditions.
Subject to regulatory approvals, the digital bank joint venture will hold a 55.45% stake in the proposed Malaysia digital bank. Newly appointed CEO Pei Si Lai, will form a dedicated team that aims to redefine banking for the estimated one in two Malaysians who are underserved or unbanked.
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. In particular, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are expected to be key beneficiaries of digital banking. Previously, Grab had already announced a financing product for their drivers in Malaysia through another partner.
SMEs in Malaysia represent over 97% of overall business establishments, contributing approximately 38% of national GDP, and employing nearly half of the working population. To build the Malaysia digital bank that will seek to offer seamless and secure financial services customized to meet consumer need, over 200 roles are targeted to be filled by launch.
Reuben Lai, Senior Managing Director, Grab Financial Group and board member of the regional digibank joint venture said the Malaysia digital bank consortium is honored to be given the opportunity to build a next-generation digital bank and drive access to financial services for underbanked Malaysians.
“Our consortium partners and ourselves are excited to build a platform that will provide innovative digital banking services for the underbanked as well as the SMEs that are the backbone of the Malaysian economy. This aligns closely with our goal of harnessing technology to empower people across the region, bringing greater options and positive change as we build something special across the region. We aim to spur fintech innovation that will transform the banking experience, making financial services more accessible, relevant and affordable,” commented Arthur Lang, Singtel’s Group Chief Financial Officer and board member of the regional digibank joint venture.
For Lai, the opportunity to build the Malaysian digital bank from the ground up and be at the forefront of the fast-evolving Malaysian FinTech landscape is incredibly exciting. Aside from leveraging agile banking technology that will enable them to offer tailored and unique banking experiences for consumers, Lai said her team will also tap on the strong support from shareholders and strategic partners, as well as guidance from Bank Negara Malaysia and the Ministry of Finance, to deliver on their mission to serve and empower underbanked Malaysian communities such as gig workers and small businesses.
Moving forward, the Malaysia digital bank consortium will work closely with Bank Negara Malaysia to meet all of its requirements in order to be awarded the Malaysia digital bank license. The digital bank joint venture between Grab and Singtel was formed in 2020 and selected to be
awarded a full digital banking license in Singapore.