Malaysia-based fintech-as-a-service provider Soft Space, Japan-based international payment brand JCB‘s international operations subsidiary JCB International (JCBI), and Malaysian lender Hong Leong Bank (HLB) have joined forces to actively drive JCB Card acceptance in Malaysia, bolstered by strong post pandemic economy recovery prospects.

The trio said in a statement on Wednesday that as the Malaysian economy continues to grow positively in 2023, tourism has emerged as one of the brightest sectors spearheading the recovery process, with Japan listed as one of the top ten contributors to tourist arrivals and spending in Malaysia.

They noted that Malaysia targets to welcome 16.1 million international tourist arrivals and generate MYR 49.2 billion ($10.89 billion) in tourist receipts in 2023.

To capitalize on this bright recovery prospect, Soft Space and JCBI recently signed an agreement to enable Soft Space to work with local acquirers, such as HLB, to promote JCB Card acceptance in Malaysia.

Sofitel Kuala Lumpur Damansara, a hotel in Kuala Lumpur, is one of HLB’s merchants that has begun accepting JCB Card payments.

“As Japanese tourist arrivals in Malaysia begin to ramp up again, we are pleased to be able to enable and promote cross-border payments between Japan and Malaysia via our partners,” said Joel Tay, Chief Executive Officer of Soft Space.

According to him, this merely represents a first step in the firm’s ambition to roll out similar agreements in Southeast Asia, boosting JCB Card acceptance and riding on the wave of increasing contactless card payments in the region.

Meanwhile, JCBI President and Chief Executive Officer Yoshiki Kaneko said that the firm decided to expand the collaboration with another global leader who shares similar values in enhancing user experience through state-of-the-art technological application.

According to him, Malaysia has been an important destination country for the firm’s card members across the regions.

Thus, he noted that establishing a partnership with HLB is a huge step forward for the expansion of JCB acceptance network in Malaysia.

“We can now better serve JCB Card members coming to Malaysia not only from Japan, but also from the ASEAN region where we have more than 10 million card members,” he said.

Leveraging on today’s success, he said the firm is further strengthening its presence in the entire ASEAN region through this partnership with Soft Space.

HLB Personal Financial Services Managing Director Andrew Jong, on the other hand, said that this partnership with JCB and Soft Space signifies the bank’s commitment to providing financial products and services that are centerd around the needs of both its merchants and their customers.
“With an influx of tourists and expats coming from Japan into Malaysia, the option to accept JCB Cards will ensure convenience for its cardholders and provide businesses with an additional opportunity to capture more tourists and grow their business,

“This partnership will enable us to serve the customers who are increasingly going cashless as well as help our merchants increase their sales and customer transaction value,” he said.

According to the statement, the agreement showcases the partnership progress between JCB and Soft Space since the former investment in the fintech in January 2022.

This includes a series of business collaborations that are aimed at leveraging on Soft Space’s fintech-as-a- service business model, technology and regulatory knowhow, and JCB’s global recognition, vast alliances and brand reach.

It noted that the promotion of JCB Card acceptance in Malaysia also signals the expansion of its merchant network, the establishment of card issuing solutions, and the provision of customer marketing solutions in Malaysia, and later in Southeast Asia.

Founded in 2012, Soft Space is a SoftPOS player that simplified the complexity of financial infrastructure and creates value-added features for businesses to expand their
business growth.

With over 70 financial institutions and partners across 23 global markets adopting its payment solutions, Soft Space is supported by Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC)’s Global Acceleration and Innovative Network (GAIN) program and received financial support through MIDA’s Domestic Investment Strategic Fund in 2014.

JCB is a major global payment brand and a credit card issuer and acquirer in Japan.

The firm launched its card business in Japan in 1961 and began expanding worldwide in 1981.

Its acceptance network includes about 43 million merchants around the world.

JCB Cards are now issued mainly in Asian countries and territories, with more than 154 million cardmembers.

As part of its international growth strategy, JCB has formed alliances with hundreds of banks and financial institutions globally to increase its merchant coverage and cardmember

HLB is a subsidiary of Hong Leong Financial Group Berhad, the financial services arm of the Hong Leong Group.

The bank provides financial services covering consumer banking, business banking and trade finance, treasury, branch and transaction banking, wealth management, private banking and Islamic financial services.

The bank has branches in Singapore and Hong Kong and wholly owned subsidiaries in Vietnam and Cambodia. In China, the Bank is a substantial shareholder in Bank of Chengdu Co., Ltd., Sichuan.

Malaysia’s Soft Space raises $31.5M Series B1 funding led by Southern Capital Group