Pertama Digital’s Bizarre Choice for a Digital Banking Consortium

Pertama Digital’s Bizarre Choice for a Digital Banking Consortium

by June 4, 2021

Last week, Bursa-listed Pertama Digital announced alternative financing operator Crowdo as its first consortium partner for its digital banking bid.

Pertama Digital, through its subsidiary Dapat Vista, is primarily a digital payment platform focused on consumer-to-government payments with solutions like MyPay and eJamin.

In a press statement sent to Fintech News Malaysia, they described their consortium partner Crowdo as an “SME-focused neobank with an AI-powered credit scoring engine for emerging markets within ASEAN” which quite frankly is a load of hot air and a really exaggerated way to describe a P2P lending operator.

What is interesting is that in the press announcement they chose to only highlight Crowdo’s operations in Indonesia while deliberately omitting the fact that the operator has an equity crowdfunding (ECF) license in Malaysia.

In 2016, the Securities Commission Malaysia granted Crowdo its ECF license, and the operator had very little to show for it beyond a few successful campaigns in its early years.

Crowdo has largely underperformed and gone under the radar compared to its more active competitors like pitchIN, Ataplus, and Crowdplus.

They have also moved from their Bangsar South office to a small co-working space in Subang Jaya. A representative from Fintech News had registered for an account with Crowdo to see if there any active investment notes in Malaysia and we only found funding opportunities in Indonesia.

Their press release seems to imply that their digital banking bid will focus on the Malaysian SME market, which is an area in which neither party has shown any successful track record given that Pertama Digital is largely consumer-focused and Crowdo’s underperformance in serving Malaysian SMEs in the alternative financing market.

It is also worth noting that in November, Pertama Digital roped in finance veteran Aiza Azreen to lead the organisation as its CEO, and despite much fanfare about how it will take the company to the next level, Aiza left the company within 3 months to pursue a senior-level role in MDEC.

In a market where there are 21 alternative financing players operating within the P2P lending and ECF space, Crowdo is certainly a bizarre choice.

With so many strong contenders including the likes of the Axiata-RHB and other prominent players rumoured to be in the bidding for the license, Pertama Digital’s consortium in its current form, in my view, stands very little chance to secure a license from Bank Negara Malaysia.