iFAST Corporation announced on June 30 that it has submitted an application for a digital bank licence from Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM).

iFAST Corp leads a consortium comprising three Malaysian partners - Koperasi Angkatan Tentera Malaysia, the cooperative organisation for Malaysian military personnel; THZ Alliance, an investment firm founded by Tengku Dato’ Dr Hishammuddin Zaizi; and Lee Thiam Wah, founder and major shareholder of mini-mart chain 99 Speed Mart. 

The consortium also includes Yillion Fintech, an arm of Yillion Bank, one of the four digital banks in China founded by Zonfar Financial Holding and Hong Kong-listed Meituan Dianping.

If successful in its bid, iFAST Corp will own a 40% stake in the digital bank. The company also states that beneficial equity ownership of the consortium will be approximately 57% Malaysian.  

“iFAST is very pleased to have been able to put together a strong consortium, comprising both Malaysian and international partners. Our consortium partners are excited with the possibility of getting a digital bank licence in Malaysia, which will allow us to tap into the exciting digital banking opportunities in Malaysia as well as to develop a truly-global digital banking and Fintech business model,” says Lim Chung Chun, chairman and CEO of iFAST Corp. 

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Lim, who is Malaysian, says that the consortium's digital bank, dubbed iFAST Bank, can create positive change for the unserved and underserved market segments, including the Bottom 40% (B40) population in Malaysia, which refers to the country’s lowest income earners.

“We think that the B40 segment has clearly been unserved and left behind even as Malaysia progresses. With the synergistic capabilities within our consortium, the solutions offered for the B40 are ones that will provide immediate benefits and results – such as free life insurance, interest-free loans for daily necessities, and micro investments and insurance. iFAST Bank will serve the B40 segment and be profitable while doing so,” he says.

According to BNM, it may issue up to five digital bank licences to qualified applicants by the first quarter of 2022. The digital bank licensee will be able to serve both retail customers as well as corporate customers. 

Shares in iFAST Corp closed up 21 cents or 2.65% higher at $8.15 on June 30.

Photo: Albert Chua/The Edge Singapore