Bank Negara Malaysia Announces Much Anticipated Digital Banking Licenses

Bank Negara Malaysia Announces Much Anticipated Digital Banking Licenses

by April 29, 2022

After a month of delay, Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) finally announced the list of successful applicants.

The framework which was first issued on 30th December 2020, was hotly contested and attracted 29 parties to bid for the licenses.

The central bank said all 29 applications received were thoroughly assessed pursuant to section 10 (1) of FSA, and IFSA, which required BNM to consider all the factors in Schedule 5 of the Acts and other relevant policy requirements.

The assessment criteria cover the character and integrity of applicants, nature and sufficiency of financial resources, soundness and feasibility of business and technology plans as well as ability to meaningfully address financial inclusion gaps. Applications were assessed based on their individual merits, as well as relative to other applications based on consistent evaluations of each assessment criteria. This horizontal review is based on the assessment criteria applied across all applicants to determine the relative strength of each application and identify successful applicants.

Following this announcement, the successful applicants will undergo a period of operational readiness that will be validated by BNM through an audit before they can commence operations. This process may take between 12 to 24 months.

In line with the 5 strategic thrusts stated in the Financial Sector Blueprint 2022-2026, BNM will continue to work with the financial and fintech industries and relevant stakeholders to continuously enhance access to financial services throughout the country and across all segments of society.

Here are the winners of Malaysia’s digital banking licenses.

Boost Holdings Sdn. Bhd. and RHB Bank Berhad (Conventional)

Boost Holdings Sdn. Bhd. and RHB Bank Berhad (Conventional)

When Axiata and RHB confirmed their bid they were largely considered a frontrunner among analysts and industry observers. The consortium will be led by Axiata with its subsidiary Boost Holdings owning 60% and RHB owning 40% of the digital banking consortium.

During the announcement, the consortium said that they will primarily target the underserved segment like MSMEs and the gig economy.

Boost is best known for their e-wallet and the micro-lending services Boost Credit, which was formerly known as Aspirasi.

GXS Bank Pte. Ltd. and Kuok Brothers Sdn. Bhd (Conventional)


grab singtel kuokbrotherRegistered in Singapore, GXS is jointly owned by Grab and Singtel, while Kuok Brothers is a Malaysian conglomerate with business interest spanning across multiple industries.

Grab has appointed Ms. Pei Si Lai, a former senior from Standard Chartered as its CEO-designate and they said in a press statement that they are looking to fill 200 news roles for the bank.


Sea Limited and YTL Digital Capital Sdn Bhd (Conventional)


The latest digital banking license in Malaysia further cements Sea Group’s regional banking ambitions. In 2020, Sea Group was granted a full digital banking license in Singapore alongside Grab.

In 2021, Sea Group acquired Indonesia’s Bank BKE with the goal of transforming it into a digital bank, it has since rebranded to Sea Bank.

In Malaysia, its fintech businesses include its e-wallet ShopeePay and its BNPL services named SPaylater. Meanwhile, YTL Berhad, is a Malaysian conglomerate with business interests spanning across hospitality, property, technology, and more.

KAF Investment Bank, MoneyMatch, Carsome and Jirnexu (Islamic)

KAF Investment Bank, MoneyMatch, Carsome and Jirnexu (Islamic)


Led by KAF Investment Bank, this consortium consists of well-known Malaysian startups and is largely considered a dark horse in this race.

MoneyMatch is a locally built fintech focusing on cross-border payments with business interests in Malaysia, Australia, and Brunei. Jirnexu is best known for their comparison site RinggitPlus.

Carsome is a digital marketplace for used cars and is Malaysia’s first unicorn.

Fintech News Malaysia is still verifying the full list and will update the story accordingly.

AEON Financial Service Co., Ltd., AEON Credit Service (M) Berhad and MoneyLion Inc (Islamic)

Aeon & Moneylion

AEON Credit is primarily a provider of consumer financing services, the company was approved by Bank Negara Malaysia as an e-money and credit card issuer as well as merchant acquirer. It is also a licensed moneylender since 2019.

MoneyLion is best known for offering neo-banking services in the US, while they do not provide services locally, Malaysia serves as a technology hub for the startup. The company was co-founded by its Malaysian CTO Foong Chee Mun.

While MoneyLion did not publicly announce its bid, their application was widely known among industry circles.

Editors Note: This article has been updated on 29th April 6:00pm to reflect Grab’s latest press statement.