Pertama Digital in advanced JV talks with BNM for digital banking license


Pertama Digital Bhd has announced its digital banking aspirations and revealed that it is currently in an advanced joint venture (JV) talks to pursue a digital banking license from Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM).

Its strategy director Saify Akhtar said the application deadline is on June 30 this year and the group is motivated and aligned with the financial inclusion emphasis in the licensing framework for digital banks published by BNM in Dec 2020.

He noted that Pertama Digital is leading a consortium of innovators and veterans, bringing to market a homegrown solution, purpose built for those Malaysians that need us most.

“We have been hard at work coordinating capital, talent, technology and a captive market and are proud to announce that we have a uniquely sustainable banking model that exceeds the requirements laid out in the framework.

“We look forward to delivering ethical financial products to underserved Malaysians and contributing to our post-pandemic recovery as a nation,” he said in a statement on Bursa Malaysia.

Saify said the group’s vantage point gives them an edge, as the group has a wealth of information and lessons which have resulted in a successful and repeatable system that gets digitally and financially underserved Malaysians transacting online.

He added that his team derives the most satisfaction from seeing the group’s solutions adopted by people who have never made an online bank transfer before, for example.

“This is why we have collectively decided to pledge our resources into serving this market from here on,” he said.

Pertama Digital is the holding company of Dapat Vista (M) Sdn Bhd, a Malaysian company that specialises in digitalisation of government services.

It provides solutions in mobile and web apps; mobile payment and messaging; business empowerment APIs, and other customised digital services.

Dapat also operates the government SMS gateway called mySMS and owns the MyPay and eJamin apps.

Having started the digital court bail solution, eJamin, in early 2020, Pertama Digital now has valuable knowhow in the space of including underserved communities both digitally and financially.

Commenting on this, Dapat CEO Amanda Sabri said eJamin was designed after detailed consultations with the Office of the Chief Registrar of the Federal Court, court personnel across the country, banks and members of the Rakyat who have paid bail.

“Thanks to an innovation culture at the courts and rapidly increasing adoption of digital services across Malaysia, eJamin was implemented across all criminal courts in Malaysia six months ahead of schedule by mid-2020,” she added.

Additionally, Pertama Digital recently announced the increase of daily transfer limits between banks to RM500,000 from the usual RM30,000, which was approved by Payments Network Malaysia Sdn Bhd (PayNet) to meet the demands of the legal system, which continues to operate robustly during the pandemic.

Amanda noted that on April 1, 2021, Dapat commenced a proof-of-concept (POC) for the conversion of coins into usable funds in any Malaysian bank account.

She revealed that this POC, operated with support from Subang Parade, will lay the foundation for a new era of how the people handle cash in the near future and findings are being shared with BNM, who are keen to see efforts to recirculate coins in the economy.

She said early data shows strong participation from typically financially underserved demographics, like food delivery riders, who still collect high amounts of coins on a daily basis in 2021.

Meanwhile, according to BNM, there are some RM3.5 billion worth of coins already minted and it is estimated that as much as 30% of coins issued every year end up being unused and kept idle at home.

Pertama Digital has scheduled joint announcements with the digital banking consortium and collaborative partners, which is expected to follow shortly.