Monday 05 Jun 2023
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KUALA LUMPUR (Aug 6): AirAsia Group Bhd’s e-wallet unit BigPay has secured up to US$100 million in financing from South Korean conglomerate SK Group to further its mission to become the leading challenger bank in Southeast Asia.

With the funds, the company intends to expand its product sets, along with growing the model to new markets, said BigPay co-founder and chief executive officer Salim Dhanani. 

"Thailand and the wider Asean is next, but we’ll be launching key products before that — with fully digital personal loans, transactional lending and an offering for micro SMEs," he said in a statement today. 

The securing of the funding comes after BigPay announced its application for a digital banking licence where it reiterated the commitment to build a connected financial future for Malaysian consumers and entrepreneurs.

On July 1, AirAsia announced that BigPay is partnering with Malaysian Industrial Development Finance Bhd in a consortium to apply for Malaysia’s digital banking licence. Other partners are Ikhlas Capital Master Fund Pte Ltd — a private equity firm partly owned by former banker Datuk Seri Nazir Razak — and a foreign conglomerate with fintech expertise. 

"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," Salim said today. 

AirAsia chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes said the US$100 million fund from SK Group is the first investment into one of its portfolio digital companies and a testament to AirAsia's digital growth endeavours. 

"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," he said. 

SK Malaysia chief representative Jung Kyu Kim said the group has 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," he said. 

Founded in 2017, BigPay is present in both Malaysia and Singapore. Its current offering includes 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 also launched a series of products for its users focused on long-term financial health and accessibility.

At 4.33pm, shares of AirAsia were up 4.5 sen or 5.63% at 84 sen apiece with a market capitalisation of RM3.27 billion. 

Edited ByS Kanagaraju
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