AEON Bank CEO Raja Teh’s Blueprint to Meet Digital Natives’ Needs

AEON Bank CEO Raja Teh’s Blueprint to Meet Digital Natives’ Needs

by March 7, 2024

In the banking industry, where change is rapid and impactful, Raja Teh Maimunah Raja Abdul Aziz stands out as the Chief Executive Officer of AEON Bank.

Her journey offers insight into the evolving nature of banking, marked by an increasing shift towards digital solutions and a greater emphasis on inclusivity. 

As the world marks Women’s Day, it’s worth looking at how Raja Teh’s leadership reflects broader trends in banking, combining technological advancement with efforts to create a more diverse and welcoming industry. 

Raja Teh’s serendipitous digital banking journey

Raja Teh’s career trajectory is a testament to her resilience, foresight, and unwavering dedication to innovation in banking. Her pivotal moment came in 2011 in Hong Leong Bank, where she was tasked with running an Islamic bank. 

By 2013, under Raja Teh’s leadership, Hong Leong Bank was at the forefront of digital innovation, notably introducing dynamic QR codes—a technology ahead of its time, predating even the adoption of chip and pin security for cards. 

Despite facing a lukewarm response and a lack of support from other banks, Raja Teh’s determination to push the boundaries of digital banking remained unwavering. 

Moments of inspiration often lead to groundbreaking initiatives. Such was the case for Raja Teh, whose journey into the digital banking frontier was sparked by a serendipitous conversation outside the PayNet building. 

Reflecting on this pivotal moment, Raja Teh shared,

Raja Teh Maimunah

Raja Teh Maimunah

“We had just emerged from a meeting at PayNet, engaged in a deep discussion about the future of payments with Mohd Khairil Abdullah, then CEO of Boost. It was there, amidst the buzz of innovative ideas, that the question arose: ‘Why don’t we apply for a digital banking license?'”

This question, posed so casually yet with profound implications, marked the beginning of a transformative journey for Raja Teh and AEON Bank.

 “It felt like destiny,” Raja Teh recalled, “as if all the pieces were falling into place. The challenge of digital transformation from within traditional banking structures was daunting, yet here was an opportunity to innovate from the outside, to redefine what banking could be for the digital age.”

The dialogue that ensued between Raja Teh and her colleagues was not just about obtaining a digital banking license; it was a broader conversation about reimagining banking for a new generation. 

“Legacy transformation is not easy,” she noted, emphasising the resistance often encountered when attempting to pivot from established methods. “But sometimes, the most effective way to drive change is from the outside. That’s what we set out to do.”

This vision was realised with enthusiasm and support, not least from Mohd Khairil, who was among the first to congratulate Aeon Bank upon acquiring its digital banking license.

“It was a full-circle moment,” Raja Teh mused, reflecting on the journey from that initial conversation to the tangible achievement of their goal. “What began as a speculative idea outside the PayNet building had evolved into a viable, revolutionary banking model.”


“Coming from incumbent banks, the shift was significant,” Raja Teh acknowledged, “but the potential to make a meaningful impact was too great to pass up. This is just the beginning.”

During this period, she identified the potential of digital banking solutions, setting her on a path that would eventually lead to her role as CEO of AEON bank. 

 AEON Bank and the digital natives

Raja Teh’s vision for AEON Bank is deeply rooted in understanding the needs of digital natives — Gen Z and Millennials. Recognising these generations’ familiarity and comfort with technology, she aims to position AEON Bank as a transactional banking app that resonates with their lifestyles. 

“Our mission is clear: to transform transactional banking into a journey that resonates with the tech-savvy Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z. It’s about making every interaction meaningful, every transaction effortless, and every customer feel valued in the digital age,”

said Raja Teh.

By drawing inspiration from Monzo, a leader in the digital banking space, Raja Teh is committed to offering innovative solutions that simplify banking, making it more accessible and intuitive for the younger demographic.

Her journey is also marked by a consistent push towards embracing digital technologies to solve traditional banking challenges, inspired by early fintech innovators like Kabbage, demonstrating the power of leveraging data for SME financing.

A customer-centric approach to banking

Central to AEON Bank’s philosophy is a relentless focus on customer centricity. The bank’s efforts to understand and adapt to the needs of its target market are evident in its dedication to creating a seamless user experience. 

By engaging directly with potential customers, including conducting usability tests with university students, AEON Bank gains invaluable insights into the preferences and behaviours of its audience.

The bank’s product development strategy reflects this dedication to customer engagement. By starting with a lean MVP (Minimum viable product) and gradually introducing more sophisticated features, AEON Bank ensures that its offerings remain relevant and accessible to a demographic that values simplicity and innovation.

Financial inclusion and empowering the underbanked with Aeon Bank

A significant aspect of Raja Teh’s strategy involves financial inclusion, mainly targeting micro-SMEs and the younger generation. AEON Bank aims to bridge the financing gap by leveraging technology to offer tailored financial solutions. 

This initiative is not just about providing banking services but about understanding these segments’ unique challenges, from the need for micro wealth management to creating entry points for those traditionally excluded from the banking system.

Raja Teh’s optimism shines through as she welcomes the advent of national digital ID initiatives, seeing them as a catalyst for a more inclusive digital economy. 

“The National Digital ID isn’t just a tool; it’s a gateway to untapped potential across the board, from entrepreneurs to everyday consumers. It’s about bridging the daunting RM90 billion funding gaps not due to a lack of funds but from a gap in understanding and assessing creditworthiness in the digital age,”

said Raja Teh.

She sees this as a pivotal development that will further enable the bank to streamline its services, particularly in eKYC (Electronic Know Your Customer) processes, enhancing security and simplifying the onboarding process. 

“We are looking at creating an ecosystem where every entity, from associations to government agencies and even taxpayers, plays a role in supporting the financial health of our SMEs. It’s about creating a support network that enables growth and stability,”

added Raja Teh.

This forward-thinking stance aligns with the bank’s digital-first strategy and underscores a commitment to leveraging national infrastructure to foster financial inclusion and improve Malaysian accessibility.

Strategic partnerships 

Recognising the limitations of traditional banking models, Raja Teh emphasises the importance of strategic partnerships in expanding AEON Bank’s service offerings. 

By collaborating with established players in insurance, wealth management, and fintech, AEON Bank aims to provide a comprehensive suite of services that cater to the nuanced needs of younger customers.

“We’re not pursuing licensing in the traditional sense; our strategy is forging partnerships with those who’ve already mastered what we aim to achieve. This way, we fast-track our ability to serve our customers comprehensively,”

said Raja Teh.

This ecosystem approach is about offering a wide range of services and creating a cohesive digital experience that integrates various financial needs into a single platform.

Such an approach enhances convenience and fosters a sense of trust and loyalty among users.

“Expect to hear some exciting announcements soon. Our approach to expanding our services is heavily reliant on strategic collaborations, ensuring that we can offer everything our customers need, from insurance to broader financial services, seamlessly,”

added Raja Teh.

Embracing technology and innovation

AEON Bank’s strategy is to leverage technology and innovation to redefine banking. Raja Teh’s career milestones, particularly her early recognition of the potential of digital banking, underscore her belief in the transformative power of technology.

“I often describe our development process as building a spaceship in the garage. The beta phase is our test flight. It’s a cycle of launching, learning, and iterating, a journey filled with challenges but driven by discovery,”

said Raja Teh.

AEON Bank’s pursuit of digital excellence is evident in its willingness to adopt cloud technologies, AI, and machine learning algorithms to enhance service delivery and customer experience.

“The transition to being 100 percent cloud-based was initially intimidating. Yet, the revelation that we own all the source code, that the intellectual property is ours, turned intimidation into empowerment,”

said Raja Teh.

Championing gender equality and inclusion in Aeon Bank

As a female leader in banking, Raja Teh is acutely aware of the challenges women face in climbing the corporate ladder, particularly in male-dominated industries.

Her inclusive leadership style focuses on creating opportunities for women to excel and progress within AEON Bank and the broader banking sector. 

She emphasises the importance of not subscribing to the notion of a “glass ceiling,” encouraging women to pursue their ambitions fearlessly.

“The concept of a ‘glass ceiling’ was alien to me for the longest time. It’s a narrative that can truly inhibit if you let it. My realisation was simple: if you believe the ceiling exists, it becomes your reality. So, I chose not to acknowledge it and just moved forward,”

said Raja Teh.

Raja Teh’s efforts extend beyond gender to ensure inclusivity for all, recognising the importance of diversity in driving innovation and excellence. 

She advocates for a work environment that values diversity, equity, inclusivity, and accessibility, highlighting initiatives such as programmes for those on the spectrum.

“I often say, don’t just wear the photo of diversity; live it. We’re committed to thinking about everyone. That means going beyond the conventional dialogues about gender to address broader issues like age diversity and accessibility for all,”

added Raja Teh.

A sustainable future for banking

As we look to the future, Raja Teh’s leadership and vision for AEON Bank offer a blueprint for a more inclusive, innovative, and customer-centric banking sector. 

Her approach reflects a deep understanding of the changing dynamics of the banking industry, driven by technological advancements and the evolving needs of consumers.

On this Women’s Day, AEON Bank CEO Raja Teh is a beacon of progress for her contributions to digital banking and relentless pursuit of equality and inclusion. 

Her story is a reminder of the transformative power of visionary leadership in reshaping industries and breaking barriers, paving the way for a more equitable and prosperous future.

Featured image credit: Edited from Freepik

This article is part of a series for International Women’s Day on the female leaders of Malaysia’s digibanks. Read more: 

CEO Rafiza Ghazali’s Strategy for KAF-Led Islamic Digital Bank