Malaysian digital banking licence awards aim to benefit the underserved

Malaysian digital banking licence awards aim to benefit the underserved

Grab Holdings Limited, and leading communications technology group Singtel have announced that GXS Bank Pte. Ltd, their digital bank joint venture, supported by a consortium of Malaysian investors, is among the companies selected to receive a full digital banking licence in Malaysia.

The other 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, and a partnership between Sea and YTL Digital Capital.

Grab is said to be Southeast Asia’s leading superapp based on gross merchandise value (GMV) in 2021 in each of food deliveries, mobility and the e-wallets segment of financial services, according to Euromonitor. 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.

Subject to meeting all of Bank Negara Malaysia’s (BNM) regulatory conditions, the new company says it aims to redefine banking for the estimated one in two Malaysians who are underserved or unbanked.

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. 

Local news services report that the central bank received a total of 29 applications for the licences and made a total of five awards as companies looked to capitalise on Malaysia's growing fintech sector. 

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.

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