PUC sees expansible opportunities with digital banking licence

The prospects of its business will remain intact as long as it exemplifies resilience, business acumen and agility, says group MD

by LYDIA NATHAN / Pic by TMR FILE PIX

PUC Bhd sees huge potential in digital banking as it leverages online platforms on the back of the booming e-commerce industry.

Its group MD Cheong Chia Chou said the prospects of its business will remain intact as long as it exemplifies resilience, business acumen and agility.

“The burgeoning stay-at-home economy, coupled with strong customer pent-up demand, plays a huge role in PUC’s business plans. We foresee more retailers looking to leverage on online platforms such as Presto as their main business gateway shift their packing and pricing strategies to adapt to the new stay-at-home economy and the future economic landscape,” he stated in an email.

According to Cheong, the ACE Market-listed tech firm’s board remains aligned to its business objectives, which includes persevering with a relentless focus on its digital agenda, which will drive the group’s return to stronger business and operational performance going forward.

Its advanced digital ecosystem, Presto, encompasses e-commerce, logistics, e-wallet, loyalty programmes, financing and payment solutions which will form a natural complement to the digital bank licence bid and enable it to drive innovation and boost digital transformation through its service offerings.

PUC recently announced it is collaborating with the Sabah and Pahang state governments in a consortium with the aim of applying for a digital banking licence from Bank Negara Malaysia.

It submitted the application on June 30, 2021, while adding the consortium will be joined by other conglomerates without naming it.

“Our consortium is the only wholly-Malaysian consortium, comprising two states and two listed companies. Having Sabah and Pahang as our partners gives us unparalleled access to our target market comprising the bottom 40% (B40) segment and the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs),” Cheong noted.

Cheong added that the plan is to provide user-friendly banking apps which meet the financial needs and enhance the banking experience in this category (the unserved and underserved) and that of the B40 group.

“The consortium recognises that there is a sizeable underserved segment which includes MSMEs and B40 segment consumers in Malaysia and plans to provide a user-friendly banking app which meets the financial needs and enhance the banking experience of this target segment,” he noted.

Cheong said the groups’ experience and familiarity with the application of technologies and creating innovative solutions to transform value for consumers and SMEs in the digital era, places the consortium in a unique position to roll out solutions for the underserved.

“PUC is extremely honoured to have been selected as a strategic partner by these two states. With their participation, we have a sizeable ready customer base as Sabah and Pahang collectively account for 20% of Malaysia’s population. PUC’s digital ecosystem has given our consortium a clear lead over the other digital bank contenders with our existing fintech, marketplace and service solutions,” he said.

PUC’s shares closed at 16.5 sen on Monday giving it a market capitalisation of RM203.8 million for its 1.23 billion shares outstanding.

The loss-making company has, however, attracted investors’ interest with rising trading volumes of its shares in the past four months.

Cheong said he is unable to comment on the share price trend as it is dependent on market sentiment and regional trends.

He said, however, the share price performance of tech-related companies regionally and globally seem to have been generally on upward trends, where the outlook of the industry remains positive in times of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Management will not dismiss the possibility that PUC’s share price may be reflective of the market’s reaction and opinions about the potential and prospects of PUC’s business moving forward,” Cheong noted.o apply to our customers,’” he added.