The running for Singapore’s digital banking license is currently underway, and it seems that things are gearing up as well for Malaysia. Reuters reports that several companies including Grab, Razer, and AirAsia are among the many that are exploring bids for the local license at this time.
Individuals familiar with the matter have informed the news agency that these companies have begun talking to consultancies in regards to digital banking. They added that “many financial and non-financial institutions” are currently assessing market opportunities and working with “external parties.” The individuals listed Grab, Razer, AirAsia, Ant Financial (formerly known as AliPay), Axiata, as well as local banks including Hong Leong Bank, Maybank and CIMB are considering the license.
According to Reuters, Razer Fintech CEO Lee Li Meng said that the company had extensive operations in Malaysia in the digital payment space and would evaluate the digital banking opportunity. The gaming firm opened a local office in Bangsar South last year, which focuses on its e-wallet business and eSports push in Malaysia.
Boost e-wallet owners Axiata also told the news agency that they are interested in applying for the license, but provided no further information other than that.
On the other hand, companies such as Grab, AirAsia, CIMB, and Hong Leong Bank declined to comment regarding this matter, while Ant Financial said that it was too early for them to provide any information.
Interestingly, Maybank declined specific comment but told Reuters that it could also operate as a digital bank under its existing licence.
As previously reported, Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) had announced plans back in December to issue up to five licenses to new online banks back. BNM had addressed that bidders whose equity is controlled by local companies are preferred, and that digital banks are not allowed to open any physical branches with the exception of a sole physical office for communication purposes. The proposed licensing framework is set to be finalised by the end of June of this year.
(Source: Reuters | Header image: Reuters.)