Grab reviewing Malaysia’s digital banking framework

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Singapore-based e-hailing company Grab is currently reviewing the exposure draft for the Licensing Framework for Digital Banks released by Bank Negara Malaysia on Dec 27 last year to understand the requirements for digital banking in the country.

GrabPay managing director Ooi Huey Tyng says the company fully supports the government’s initiative to develop a cashless economy and is open to having conversations with partners on growing the vision of financial inclusiveness.

Grab is one of the non-bank players that have expressed interest in applying for a virtual bank licence in Malaysia. In Singapore, the company has formed a consortium with communications technology group Singtel to apply for a full digital bank licence. 

“In the past two years, we have launched and scaled financial services such as e-money, lending and insurance distribution in Southeast Asia’s largest fintech ecosystem. The natural next step is to build a truly customer-centric digital bank that will deliver a variety of banking and financial services that are accessible, transparent and affordable,” says Reuben Lai, senior managing director of Grab Financial Group.

Both companies have launched products and services aimed at promoting financial inclusivity before. Singtel, for instance, launched VIA — a payment network that enables consumers to pay using their e-wallets when travelling in Asia-Pacific — in 2018. The e-wallet operators that have agreed to join the VIA alliance include Malaysia-based Boost, Indonesia-based LinkAja and Japan-based StarPay.

Grab recently launched Asia’s first numberless card, the GrabPay card, in Singapore. Through a partnership with MasterCard, the company allows its users to apply for a digital and physical card that is accepted by millions of merchants globally.

Ooi says it is looking to introduce this feature to its Malaysian users sometime this year. “We are also looking at rolling out other small features in the near future. One of them is something like a dashboard, which will help users get better visibility of their expenses. Another feature is one that helps users identify nearby merchants that accept GrabRewards deals.”

Grab has seen encouraging growth in the number of GrabPay users in Malaysia since the service was launched in June 2018. Over the last six months alone, there was a 120% increase in GrabPay users. Currently, one in four Grab users have gone cashless while its auto top-up feature is used by 30% of its e-wallet base. 

“GrabPay is now accepted by more than 30,000 merchants in Malaysia, not including our driver-partners and GrabFood merchants, which also accept GrabPay as a form of payment,” says Ooi.

Grab is one of three e-wallets participating in the e-Tunai Rakyat initiative introduced by the government to encourage cashless payments. Offering a one-off credit of RM30, the initiative is open to Malaysians age 18 and above in the year 2020 with an annual income of less than RM100,000. Applicants must submit their claims starting from Jan 15 and spend the credit received by March 14. 

“Grab has seen 20 million downloads region-wide. So, we have ensured that our system is able to process massive amounts of requests in a short period. Within the first 12 hours, one in three of the daily active users sent in their claim request. We are also happy to know that one in four requests are not our existing e-wallet users,” says Ooi.