Several years ago when the fintech wave began hitting the shores of Malaysia, several Malaysian banks like Maybank, RHB, and CIMB each launch their own accelerator programmes to partner up with fintech companies. Some time around last year, the banks began to open up their program to non-fintech digital players in the market.
The shift from partnerships between banks and fintech companies to banks and other digital companies are made even more apparent in 2018, where in this week alone both Hong Leong Bank and RHB announced a series of partnerships.
Hong Leong Bank’s Partnerships
Hong Leong launched their “HLB Digital Business Solutions” a suite of holistic solutions targeted at empowering their SME clients. The partnerships include Biztory, an e-accounting and invoicing software solution, Kakitangan, an e-HR platform that manages human resource functions such as the payroll system, SimpleTax , an online Sales & Services Tax and Income Tax advisory tool as well as Digital Advert, a service that offers affordable outdoor digital advertising package to an access of 3,500 digital screens in Malaysia.
Interestingly Kakitangan was part of the bank’s HLB Launchpad 2017 cohort, which was likely where the seeds of partnership were first planted between the two parties. Speaking to Terrence Teoh, Hong Leong Bank’s Head Group SME Banking on the sidelines, he mentioned that these offerings are subsidised by the bank and will be made available to their SME customers at either no cost or at a nominal subsidised fee.
Commenting on the offering, Domenic Fuda, Group Managing Director and CEO, Hong Leong Bank said, “As automation and digitisation rapidly change the way businesses operate, HLB strives to help our customers step up and futureproof their businesses by providing them with a comprehensive digital business and financial solutions that will enable them to be competitive in the market. We believe in empowering them with the right functional tools under a one-stop Digital Business Solutions that will help them to be more agile and efficient, so that they are able to focus on pursuing avenues and opportunities for growth,”
With the HLB Digital Solutions combined with their SMElite programme which is a partnership between Hong Leong Bank and Credit Guarantee Corporation that allows qualified SMEs to secure loans of up to RM5 million for property purchases and refinancing and is bundled with working capital requirements up to 150 percent margin of financing; the bank said it is targeting to onboard 5,000 SMEs.
Similarly, RHB launched their RHB SME E-solution, a suite of cloud based solutions targeted at helping their SME clients to digitalise their businesses. In designing this suite of solutions several partnerships we established which includes Financio’s accounting software that manages accounting records and provides business insights, and Kakitangan.com’s Human Resource & Payroll Solution aimed at reducing cost and improving efficiency in managing payroll services
In a press release issued by the bank, Jefrrey Ng, Head Group Business & Transaction, RHB Banking Group said, “We are proud to be the first financial institution in Malaysia to offer total connectivity solutions for SMEs. With the expanded offering, the RHB SME e-Solution provides SMEs a holistic solution for seamless connectivity. With this, SMEs are able to achieve cost reduction and increase efficiency in their businesses”, Through this initiative RHB aims to secure 2,500 additional registration in the next 12 months.
This is an interesting shift in the strategic direction for the banks, with many more bank ran accelerator programmes in 2018 opening up to non-fintech companies, it is likely that we will see many of such similar announcement from other banks.