SC Malaysia Champions Fintech Solutions for Agri-Advancement

SC Malaysia Champions Fintech Solutions for Agri-Advancement

by June 1, 2023

Malaysia’s agricultural sector isn’t just a patchwork of fields and farms, but a vital powerhouse for the nation’s economic growth and prosperity.  Not only does it bolster the country’s income and create employment opportunities, but it also serves as an important source of export earnings.

However, in the midst of changing global dynamics and evolving market demands, the sector’s contribution to Malaysia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has experienced a gradual decline. This calls for immediate attention to ensure food security, promote sustainability, and build resilience within the agriculture industry.

Through its flagship initiative, SCxSC, the Securities Commission Malaysia (SC) acknowledges the pivotal role that fintech can play in revolutionizing the agriculture sector, and this vision was prominently highlighted at the recently held SCxSC GROW Fintech Conference.

SC Chairman Dato’ Seri Dr. Awang Adek recognized the challenges faced by MSMEs in the agriculture sector and underscored the potential of fintech solutions to enhance financing access and boost efficiency in the industry.

In his address, he highlighted the transformative power of fintech in addressing the unique needs of agricultural businesses, particularly in terms of access to finance.

Unlocking new growth opportunities in agriculture

Fintech integration presents a promising avenue to drive financial inclusion, particularly for smallholders and agritech-preneurs who play a crucial role in advancing agricultural modernization and research and development.

Recognizing the power of alternative financing avenues, the SC acknowledges the potential of equity crowdfunding (ECF) and peer-to-peer (P2P) financing in mobilizing capital directly for agri-preneurs.

In 2022, the P2P financing segment experienced remarkable growth, with a total of RM1.58 billion raised through 24,455 campaigns by 3,732 issuers, compared to 1,998 issuers and RM1.14 billion raised in 2021. Interestingly, nearly half of the investors were below the age of 35, and retail investors accounted for 89 percent of the invested funds.

Despite the flourishing P2P financing landscape, the agriculture sector in Malaysia has yet to fully seize this opportunity. Only 600 agri-related MSMEs along the value chain managed to raise approximately RM300 million, indicating untapped potential for further growth and investment.

SC Malaysia Champions Fintech Solutions for Agri-Advancement

SC Malaysia Champions Fintech Solutions for Agri-Advancement

Among the notable success stories in the agtech landscape of Malaysia is Sri Walis Plantation. A homegrown company specializing in durian plantation, Sri Walis Plantation specializes in offering a wide range of services, including plantation management, agriculture assessment, land clearing, and planting contractor works for agricultural plantations.

Through the utilization of the equity crowdfunding platform pitchIN, the company successfully raised RM1,626,000 from 163 investors in January 2020. Moreover, Sri Walis Plantation leverages the power of big data analytics and Internet of Things (IoT) devices to monitor and optimize plantation processes, ensuring efficiency and sustainability throughout their operations.

By embracing fintech, the agriculture sector can unlock new opportunities for growth and investment. ECF and P2P financing platforms provide younger and high-growth companies with additional options to access capital that aligns with their risk profiles.

This not only promotes financial inclusion but also fosters innovation within the sector. Through the utilization of fintech, farmers and agri-businesses can overcome traditional barriers to financing, enabling them to pursue their goals and contribute to the development of a modern and sustainable agricultural ecosystem.

MyCIF: A catalyst for agri-financing

The Malaysia Co-investment Fund (MyCIF) has been instrumental in providing financing to MSMEs, including agro-preneurs, through ECF and P2P platforms.

As at 31 December 2022, MyCIF has successfully co-invested over RM638 million in approximately 35,000 ECF and P2P financing campaigns, benefitting 3,635 MSMEs. The fund had co-invested alongside more than RM2.56 billion from private investors.

SC Malaysia Champions Fintech Solutions for Agri-Advancement

MyCIF’s co-investment model, specifically designed for alternative finance platforms, encourages private investors to participate in financing initiatives. During the Covid-19 pandemic, MyCIF lowered its investment ratio to 1:2, channeling more funds to MSMEs.

The agricultural sector’s special allocation ratio of 1:2, introduced in 2022, further enhances financing opportunities for agri-businesses. MyCIF’s support and flexible financing options have helped agri-preneurs weather the challenges posed by the pandemic and facilitated their growth and expansion.

In addition, the government has allocated RM40 million to the MyCIF fund as announced in Budget 2023.

Empowering agricultural growth through technology

To ensure future productivity and sustainability, the agriculture industry must embrace cutting-edge technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), robots, smart sensors, and big data analytics.

Fintech integration can enable farmers to access real-time data, make informed decisions, and streamline operations by connecting them with technology providers and offering tailored financial solutions to support their technological transformation.

Additionally, promoting sustainable practices such as organic farming and investing in climate-resilient crops through fintech platforms can contribute to a greener agriculture sector and ensure consistent yields even in adverse weather conditions.

By aligning financial incentives with sustainable agriculture, fintech can drive positive change, benefiting farmers and consumers alike.

Challenges in fintech adoption for agriculture in Malaysia

The agricultural sector in Malaysia faces several challenges when it comes to adopting fintech solutions. One of the main obstacles is the low adoption rate among farmers and agribusinesses, particularly in rural areas, due to limited awareness, trust, and digital literacy.

Additionally, there is a mismatch between the supply and demand of fintech solutions, as existing offerings may not align with the specific needs and preferences of the agricultural sector.

Another challenge lies in the fragmented and siloed nature of data across different stakeholders and platforms, hindering the interoperability and integration of fintech solutions.

Cybersecurity and data privacy risks can also pose concerns, as farmers and agribusinesses may be vulnerable to fraud, identity theft, and data breaches.

Addressing these challenges is crucial for the successful implementation and widespread adoption of fintech in the agricultural sector in Malaysia.