Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

South Korea conglomerate SK Group to bolster MY presence with investment announcement

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – SK Group, the multi-national manufacturing and service conglomerate company based in South Korea with a market capitalization of U$177b, has announced its commitment to further invest in Malaysia, following its recent investment in the country of over US$700m in 2021. 

According to SK Group, in January 2021, SK Nexilis announced a capital expenditure of US$553m (RM2.3b) to set up a copper foil manufacturing facility in Sabah, which will be part of SK Group’s Electric Vehicle (EV) value chain. Meanwhile, SK Group’s car-sharing subsidiary SoCar Malaysia has recently raised more than US$55m from EastBridge Partners and local conglomerate Sime Darby to fuel its expansion and build an EV platform in Malaysia, with plans to deploy hundreds of EVs in the next five years. 

Furthermore, SK Group has announced a strategic investment of up to US$100m into Malaysia’s fintech BigPay in August 2021, which is a testament to the ability of Malaysian fintech companies to grow not just domestically, but also regionally and become a major player in SEA. The fintech has plans to catalyze intra-regional trade between Malaysian SMEs and the region, by initially leveraging the connectivity and network of AirAsia, combined with its logistics arm, Teleport. SK Group has also announced that it will be joining the BigPay consortium to apply for the upcoming digital banking license in Malaysia.

Jung Kyu Kim, SK Group’s chief representative for Malaysia, said, “We are confident that SK’s experience in financial tech services will contribute to the successful digital bank ecosystem in Malaysia and further growth into the ASEAN region.”

SK Group said that as it expands rapidly into new industries globally especially in sectors benefiting the environment and human health, SK Group is looking forward to more investment opportunities in Malaysia. In particular, SK Group is keen to explore with like-minded partners in the growing sectors of EV, digitalization, and environment.

SME Featured Southeast Asia

BigPay’s US$100m secured funding to establish itself as a ‘challenger bank’ in SEA

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – BigPay, the digital portfolio and fintech company under AirAsia, has announced that it has finalized its funding, now amounting to US$100m, which entails the company to push through its vision of becoming a ‘challenger bank’ in the growing banking ecosystem in Southeast Asia.

Said funding was led by SK Group, one of the leading conglomerate groups, headquartered in South Korea.

Founded in 2017, the company, which is present in both Malaysia and Singapore at the moment, offers a prepaid debit card which can be used to spend anywhere Visa or Mastercard is accepted, local and international money transfers, micro-insurance, bill payments and a budgeting tool. BigPay has launched as well a series of products for its users focused on long-term financial health and accessibility.

According to Salim Dhanani, co-founder and CEO at BigPay, said funding speaks to the company’s vision to expand their product sets, along with growing the model to new markets. He added that they target to expand to Thailand and the wider ASEAN market, but for now, they will focus first in launching key products: fully digital personal loans, transactional lending and an offering for MSMEs.

“Our ethos has always been clear. We want to launch financial products that are not only simple and convenient but transparent and accessible to everyone. We are ready to embark on the next stage of our journey with SK Group and we will continue to provide fair financial services to communities across Southeast Asia,” says Salim.

The funding from one of South Korea’s largest conglomerates and tech innovator further strengthens AirAsia’s digital endeavor as it accelerates the scope of growth for its digital businesses, including logistics and financial services.

“We are happy to be joining forces with BigPay as we’ve had a keen interest in fintech and digital banking for a long time. SK Group will be able to make a significant contribution to BigPay in both technical and consumer service aspects given our experience and resources,” said Jung Kyu Kim, chief representative at SK Malaysia.

Meanwhile, Tony Fernandes, CEO at AirAsia Group, commented, “I am excited for this great partnership with SK Group and for their belief in BigPay’s mission to bring inclusivity to financial services. This is the first investment into one of our portfolio digital companies and a testament to our digital growth story – we don’t anticipate it being the last.”

He added, “SK Group is second to none when it comes to innovation and experience, so we truly believe they can share their expertise and know-how so that this investment can mark the beginning of a new exciting digital banking era.”