Investment holding company CNAsia Corporation has announced its intention to obtain a digital banking licence from Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) so that it can set up a digital bank that serves specifically women. This comes following its signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Intcys Sdn Bhd to establish a consortium that provides digital banking services for women.
According to a joint statement from CNAsia, women are one of the most vulnerable groups in the current Covid-19 pandemic, with many facing financial constraints due to loss of jobs and the inability to conduct businesses as usual. They are then forced to look for other sources of income. As such, the proposed Women Empowering Women (MyWeW) digital bank will focus on helping them obtain various digital banking services, including entrepreneurial financing, micro-loans, debit and credit applications, as well as the opening of digital bank accounts.
“Through such digital banking products, low-income women in the country will be able to access the convenience of online banking to conduct business through smartphones, increase their income, and improve the family financial situation,” said MyWeW advisor Dato’ Sri Azalina Othman Said, who is also the member of Parliament for Pengerang and the Deputy Speaker of Dewan Rakyat.
Meanwhile, the executive director of CNAsia, Chang Chee Ching said that the company sees digital banking as a future trend. “When Bank Negara opened up its licence application, we believe it is a wise business move for CNAsia to have a go at the MyWeW digital bank,” he said. CNAsia will be investing a total of RM400 million for this effort.
Director of Intcys, Wan Nurliyana Abdul Rahman also added that the objective of the MoU was to apply for the necessary licences from BNM and other appropriate authorities so that the consortium can carry out financial services tailored primarily for women. “Digital banking has been developed in a few other countries like Sweden, India, and Bangladesh. They have (conventional) banks for women, but we want to be the first country to have a digital bank specifically for women,” she emphasised.
For context, BNM had issued the policy document on the licencing framework for digital banks just last week, as well as opened applications for five digital banking licences for conventional or Islamic digital banking business. Interested parties will have until 30 June 2021 to apply, and the results are slated to be announced by the first quarter of 2022.