Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

Grab-led digibank JV to get nod to operate in Malaysia

Malaysia – Grab and Singtel has announced today that GXS Bank, their digital bank joint venture, and a consortium of Malaysian investors including Kuok Brothers, have been selected to receive a full digital banking licence in Malaysia, subject to meeting all of Bank Negara Malaysia’s regulatory conditions. 

The digital bank to be established is expected to enable local micro-SMEs and other financially underserved segments such as gig economy workers to access a suite of financial services. 

To build the Malaysia digital bank, Pei Si Lai, financial industry veteran and the one appointed to lead the digital bank, will be assembling a team with diverse backgrounds in finance and technology. Over 200 roles are targeted to be filled by launch, including in the areas of product and design, data, technology, risk, and compliance. 

Reuben Lai, senior managing director of Grab Financial Group and board member of the regional digibank JV, said that they will leverage the consortium’s combined strengths including technology expertise, data from highly-engaged consumers, experience in financial services in SEA, as well as deep understanding of the Malaysian market, to redefine the banking experience for underbanked Malaysians. 

 “The Malaysia digital bank consortium is honoured to be given the opportunity to build a next-generation digital bank and drive access to financial services for underbanked Malaysians,” said Lai. 

Meanwhile, Arthur Lang, Singtel’s group chief financial officer and also board member of the regional digibank JV, said, “We are glad to have this opportunity to support Malaysia’s vision of greater financial inclusion for its people. Our consortium partners and ourselves are excited to build a platform that will provide innovative digital banking services for the underbanked as well as the SMEs that are the backbone of the Malaysian economy. This aligns closely with our goal of harnessing technology to empower people across the region, bringing greater options and positive change as we build something special across the region. We aim to spur fintech innovation that will transform the banking experience, making financial services more accessible, relevant and affordable.” 

As CEO designate of the Malaysian digital bank, Lai brings extensive experience and deep customer centricity honed over 25 years in retail banking, wealth management, corporate finance, product and business management, as well as governance, in both local and international markets. Prior to her current role, she was managing director and country head for the consumer, private and business banking of Standard Chartered in Malaysia. 

Lai commented, “The opportunity to build the Malaysian digital bank from the ground up and be at the forefront of the fast-evolving Malaysian fintech landscape is incredibly exciting. Aside from leveraging agile banking technology that will enable us to offer tailored and unique banking experiences for our consumers, my team and I will also tap on the strong support from our shareholders and strategic partners, as well as guidance from Bank Negara Malaysia and the Ministry of Finance, to deliver on our mission to serve and empower underbanked Malaysian communities such as gig workers and small businesses. We will also actively partner with leading industry players to advance the Malaysian financial landscape.” 

The digital bank joint venture between Grab and Singtel was formed in 2020 and selected to be awarded a full digital banking licence in Singapore.