Maybank: No Need To Apply For Digital Banking Licence, Digital Journey Began In 2014
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(Image: The Star)

Maybank has asserted that it did not join the race for the digital banking licences to be issued by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) because the bank has already embarked on its digital transformation journey since 2014.

“Our journey for digital banking did not start last year but in 2014, and we do have the option to introduce digital banking under the licence we have right now, so we do not have to apply one,” said the group president and chief executive officer of Maybank, Datuk Abdul Farid Alias in a virtual briefing yesterday.

Datuk Farid also emphasised that Maybank is already offering digital banking services via its MAE by Maybank2u (MAE) app, which “blurs the line between bank and digital wallet”. The app, which was launched in October last year, offers services that include the digital onboarding of customers without needing them to be physically present at a branch and the ability to apply for loans online. He further stressed that the MAE app goes beyond being just a banking app. Instead, it is a platform with various functions that provide its users with a more integrated experience, making it more than what was previously just a banking app – it has already stated previously that MAE will be the one-stop app for Maybank and its older Maybank2u app will eventually be phased out.

Additionally, Datuk Farid noted that Maybank already has all the features of a digital bank, especially given the initiatives and programmes that have been introduced over the past few years, such as the SME Digital Financing programme. In fact, more of such programmes are slated to be rolled out later this year and in 2022.

Datuk Farid further reiterated that BNM’s digital banking framework requires the upcoming digital banks to drive financial inclusion for the underserved and hard-to-reach communities by providing quality access and responsible usage of financial services. “At the end of the day, it’s about inclusivity and serving the underserved,” he said.

With regard to his opinion of the eventual winners of BNM’s digital banking licences, Datuk Farid said that many players who venture into the digital financial space typically target the payments feature, such as the numerous e-wallet players in the country. Many of these players are, however, unable to financially sustain themselves in their efforts to shift customer behaviour towards digital payments in the long run. He also commented that the intention of each entity differs from one another. Some may be looking to collect customer behaviour data, which can then be employed for other purposes within their existing ecosystem.

abm-datuk abdul farid alias
(Image: New Straits Times)

“This could be for advertising purposes or something else. But for us, one of our primary functions is to lend to the real economy – for the consumer. For the rest of the players, it will depend on whether they have enough to do the same as well, to provide lending. Lending, by nature, is a risky business. It may look interesting from the outside, but in reality it doesn’t run away from the maths, as lending is a function of the liquidity and capital you have,” said Datuk Farid.

BNM officially issued its digital banking framework and opened up applications for five digital banking licences in at the end of December 2020. As many as 40 parties had expressed initial interest – including AirAsia, Grab, Sunway, BigPay, and the state governments of Johor and Sarawak – although ultimately, the central bank received a total of 29 applications for the licences. The central bank is expected to reveal the successful applicants in the first quarter of 2022.

(Sources: The Edge Markets, The Star)

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