Southeast Asian used car marketplace Carsome is part of KAF Investment Bank’s consortium which recently awarded a digital banking license in Malaysia.

“Yes, we are excited to confirm that Carsome is part of the consortium led by KAF Investment Bank which has received one of the first digital bank licenses in Malaysia granted by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM),” Carsome investors’ relations team told TechNode Global.

The consortium led by KAF Investment Bank is one of the five successful applicants to win the bids for the digital banking licenses in Malaysia. The consortium will be licensed under the Islamic Financial Services Act 2013 (IFSA).

“Financial Inclusion is an important enabler of our customer experience and Carsome’s success. With the support and guidance from Bank Negara, we will continue to explore potential partnership and participation opportunities within the consortium to democratize financial access in Malaysia, by leveraging our technology, data and network, as the region’s largest car e-commerce platform,” the IR team wrote in an email.

Carsome, however, declined to comment on the stake the company will own in the digital bank.

The news also came as Carsome is said to be filing for an initial public offering (IPO) on NASDAQ. Carsome has been providing financing and car insurance products besides the buying and selling of used cars through its platform. In March, Carsome has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for greater business collaborations with Public Bank, one of the largest lenders in Malaysia.

Carsome has been actively acquiring car-related businesses over the past few months. On Thursday, Carsome announced the acquistion of digital automotive content businesses under brands of WapCar and AutoFun from Tang Internet Ltd and its subsidiaries. The acquisition also comes after Carsome’s acquisition of a majority stake in CarTimes Automobile in March.

In January, Carsome completed its $290 million Series E round, increasing the company’s valuation to approximately $1.7 billion. The financing round was jointly led by Qatar Investment Authority, 65 Equity Partners and Seatown Private Capital Master Fund (Seatown). The round also saw participation from Mediatek, Sunway, Gokongwei Group, YTL Group, and Taiwan Mobile. Carsome emerged as Malaysia’s first tech unicorn in a share-swap deal that take a stake in iCar Asia July last year.

Meanwhile, KAF Investment Bank said in a Linkedin post that the consortium it led is fully 100 percent Malaysian, and consists of household names such as Carsome, MoneyMatch and Jirnexu.

Established in 1975, KAF Investment Bank group and its affiliates are a diversified Malaysian financial services group serving customers in both Shariah and Conventional fixed income and money markets, investment banking, stockbroking, funds management, unit trusts and trustee services.

KAF Investment Bank-led consortium was among the low-profile bidders for the digital banking licenses. Besides Carsome, the KAF Investment Bank-led consortium also includes two other FinTech firms, Jirnexu and MoneyMatch.

Malaysia FinTech firm Jirnexu, known for its digital financial marketplace RinggitPlus is also part of KAF’s consortium. The firm provides digital media services, technology solutions and financial planning services. A graduate of Bank Negara’s Fintech Regulatory Sandbox, Jirnexu counts Dublin-based information services firm Experian and Japan-based investment firm SBI Group as backers.

Digital remittance platform MoneyMatch is another graduate of the Fintech Regulatory Sandbox operating in the international payment space, operating on a fully digital platform to provide remittance services for individuals and businesses with a global reach of over 82 countries in more than 40 currencies. MoneyMatch is launching its Series B fundraising round following the recent successful digital banking license application, local media New Straits Times reported on Friday.

MoneyMatch announced in July 2021 that it was applying for a digital banking license after closing its MYR18.5 million ($4.22 million) Series A investment round and its expansion plans. The FinTech firm counts KAF Investment Bank and government-linked early-stage startups influencer Cradle Fund as backers.

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