Malaysian budget carrier AirAsia Group’s FinTech unit BigPay announced on Friday that it has finalized up to $100 million in financing from South Korean conglomerate SK Group.

This is the first time any portfolio company within AirAsia Digital has secured financing of this size, BigPay said in a statement.

The announcement comes a few weeks after BigPay announced its application for a digital banking license.

BigPay has put together a consortium of strategic partners to support its application: Malaysian Industrial Development Finance Bhd (MIDF), a unit of the country’s largest asset manager Permodalan Nasional Bhd, private equity firm Ikhlas Capital and a foreign conglomerate with fintech expertise.

BigPay said the funding from SK Group, one of South Korea’s largest conglomerates and tech innovators, further strengthens AirAsia’s digital endeavor as it accelerates the scope of growth for its digital businesses, including logistics and financial services.

“Our ambition has always been to establish BigPay as one of the largest challenger banks in Southeast Asia. Closing this financing round gives us the ability to build out our offerings, accelerate product development and scale. We are thrilled to have SK Group with us on this journey,” said BigPay Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder Salim Dhanani.

“We’ve established ourselves in Malaysia as one of the leading providers of digital banking services, and we want to expand our product sets, along with growing the model to new markets. Thailand is next, but we’ll be launching key products before that – with fully digital personal loans, transactional lending, and an offering for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs),” 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 launched a series of products for its users focused on long-term financial health and accessibility. In an interview with TechNode Global, Salim said BigPay will bank on AirAsia’s ecosystem, consortium’s banking expertise as it vies for a digital bank license.

“This is the first investment into one of our portfolio digital companies and a testament to our digital growth story — we don’t anticipate it being the last. 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,” AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes said in the statement.

“SK Group will be able to make a significant contribution to BigPay in both technical and consumer service aspects given our experience and resources,” Chief Representative of SK Malaysia Jung Kyu Kim said.

SK Group is the third-largest conglomerate in South Korea by asset size. It was founded in 1953 and has 125 subsidiaries in various sectors including energy, chemicals, ICT, semiconductor, and service sectors. SK Group operates globally across over 40 countries and had combined revenues of $115 billion and assets of $208 billion as of year-end 2020.

BigPay banks on AirAsia’s ecosystem, consortium’s banking expertise to vie for digital banking license in Malaysia [Q&A]