Digital bank bidders rise ahead of BNM announcement of licence winners

Digital bank bidders rise ahead of BNM announcement of licence winners
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KUALA LUMPUR (April 29): Digital bank bidders rose on Friday morning (April 29) as Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) is set to announce the winners on the same day.

AEON Credit Service (M) Bhd rose the most, surging 76 sen or 4.87% to RM16.36.

Meanwhile, RHB Bank Bhd gained one sen or 0.16% to RM6.20, Axiata Group Bhd grew three sen or 0.85% to RM3.54, Sunway Bhd increased by two sen or 1.1% to RM1.84, and YTL Corp Bhd climbed 2.5 sen or 4.2% to 62 sen.

Star Media Group Bhd also rose half a sen or 1.49% to 34 sen, while Paramount Corp Bhd expanded 1.5 sen or 2.03% to 75.5 sen. RCE Capital Bhd climbed two sen or 1.1% to RM1.83.

Kenanga Investment Bank Bhd added two sen or 1.75% to RM1.16, while Revenue Group Bhd grew six sen or 4.69% to RM1.34.

It was reported earlier that front runners for the digital banking licences include the 60:40 joint venture between RHB Bank and Axiata (via its fintech arm Boost); a joint venture between Grab Holdings Inc and Singapore Telecommunications Ltd (Singtel), with a consortium of investors that include the Kuok Group; and a consortium led by Sunway.

Also tipped as a front runner was YTL, which has reportedly submitted a bid with Singapore’s Sea Group.

The central bank has also reportedly received applications for the digital banking licences from AEON Credit and its parent company AEON Financial Service Co Ltd; a consortium comprising Paramount, Star Media, RCE Capital, Prosper Palm Oil Mill Sdn Bhd and a technology partner; as well as a consortium comprising Revenue Group Bhd, the Sarawak state and Kenanga Investment Bank.

On Thursday, theedgemarkets.com reported, citing sources, that BNM will be unveiling the successful applicants for the digital bank licences on Friday, almost a month after the original deadline.

In February, BNM governor Tan Sri Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus said the central bank was in the "advanced stage" of assessing the applications for digital banks and it targeted to announce the winners along with the publication of its annual report at the end of March.

She added that BNM had received 29 applications and as it intends to license a maximum of five, it needed to thoroughly evaluate each and every single application.

She noted that the central bank wants the digital banks to offer relevant products and services to the unserved and underserved segments, so that more people and entrepreneurs can better own assets and save for the future or to grow their businesses.

“We also expect the entry of these digital banks to accelerate the digitalisation of our incumbent banks. This will be good not just for the industry, but also for all of us here as customers of the incumbent banks,” she explained.

Later in March, however, Nor Shamsiah said that the central bank will only announce in the near future its decision on the digital bank licences upon completion of the legal process.

Earlier in July 2021, BNM said that a diverse range of parties had submitted their applications for the digital bank licences, ranging from banks, industry conglomerates, technology firms, e-commerce operators, fintech players and cooperatives to state governments.

“Successful applicants that meet all prudential criteria will be expected to contribute towards greater financial inclusion by offering products and services to address market gaps in the underserved and unserved segments. This includes promoting suitable and affordable financial solutions by leveraging innovative application of technology,” it added.

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BNM to announce digital bank licence winners on Friday, say sources

Surin Murugiah