Boost confident of clinching digital banking licence from BNM

The firm already knows what is required to make this model work from a technology perspective 

by S BIRRUNTHA / Pic by TMR GRAPHIC

BOOST, the fintech arm of Axiata Group Bhd, is confident of securing a digital banking licence from Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM), which is expected to be announced in the first quarter of this year. 

Boost CEO Sheyantha Abeykoon (picture) said the optimism came from developing the right model that fits the vision of digital banking for three years and investing significantly in the building blocks. 

He added as a company that has been operating a lending business at scale and serving the underserved customers, Boost already knows what was required to make this model work from a technology perspective. 

“Given that, we have already invested significantly in building blocks and the fact that we have consortium partners who also share the same vision that we have, I think we are very confident in terms of securing the licence. 

“I think we have put in a very strong application, and we are confident about the strength of our application,” he said during the “Boost: Spearheading Fintech Innovation, Accelerating Regional Growth” virtual media briefing yesterday. 

According to Sheyantha, Boost has come a long way from starting its business as an e-wallet, then setting up a lending business with Boost Credit. 

He noted Boost today has presented a strong proposition as a fintech provider coupled with extensive experience as a scale lender with an e-wallet business and a profitable cross-border payments business. 

“If our digital bank licence bid is successful, it will take our fintech business to the next level, completing our ambition of becoming a full-spectrum fintech player to create an inclusive digital ecosystem for consumers and merchants across the region,” he added. 

Sheyantha said following an exceptional year of growth in revenues and product innovation, Boost is now setting its sights on expanding its suite of services and deepening its regional presence. 

He said the company has evolved from a digital payment provider into a full spectrum fintech company, with ambitions to enter into digital banking to serve consumers and merchants across South-East Asia. 

In 2022, Boost will be prioritised on the expansion of its Buy-Now-Pay-Later products this year. 

He added the company is in a unique position to dominate this space in Malaysia having the basic tenets to build the business, a large active consumer base, an expansive merchant network, settlement and payment infrastructure, and best in class digital underwriting and collection capability.

Boost will also be expanding its businessto-business platforms to enable small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to participate more broadly in the digital economy.

Boost recently launched a food delivery platform called Boost Makan and is working on launching a platform for SMEs to source raw materials at competitive rates.

“Focus will also be placed on enhancing the functionalities and capabilities of its merchant app to enable merchants to leverage analytics and insights to scale their business,” he said.

Boost chief product and innovation officer Karthik Bhaskaran said the recently announced partnership with Mastercard will focus on the issuance of physical and virtual prepaid payment cards this year. 

He added the business opportunity for Boost through the Mastercard partnership is huge with more than 65% of e-wallet top-ups on Boost occurring via online banking today. 

He said this represents a big potential user base who will benefit from the convenience of having a physical or virtual prepaid payment card for their transactions, on top of their e-wallet spend. 

On another note, Sheyantha highlighted that Boost will also be reinvesting in its customers in 2022 and beyond. 

He said the recent initiative was a refresh of BoostUP, its loyalty programme based on three key principles, namely increasing the intrinsic value of the loyalty programme via expansive rewards, a more transparent and simpler earn structure, and enabling an easier tier up system. 

Sheyantha hopes that with building blocks established for Boost to scale regionally, 2022 onwards will be an exciting time for the company as it sets its sights to become a fintech champion for micro SMEs in the region.