Boost, a regional fintech leader, and its consortium partner, RHB Banking Group (RHB), have received official approval from Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) and the Ministry of Finance (MOF) to commence operations as a digital bank, with effect from January 15, 2024.

This marks a momentous milestone as the consortium becomes the first primarily Malaysian-owned digital bank to commence operations with a pioneering embedded digital bank app in the local market, designed to meaningfully address financial inclusion gaps for the underserved and unserved, the duo said in a joint statement on Monday.

It is noted that the Boost-RHB Digital Bank Consortium received regulatory approval ahead of the scheduled timeline, following a thorough operational readiness review validated by BNM.

Having successfully demonstrated a robust and resilient foundational infrastructure for the digital bank, now formally known as Boost Bank by Axiata and RHB (Boost Bank), the consortium will advance into the alpha-testing phase involving internal employees, family, friends, and a selected group of customers.

In the lead-up to the public launch, the digital bank will progressively enhance its product propositions and refine the user experience to pave the way for a new era of embedded finance tailored to meet the diverse needs of all Malaysians.

Spearheading the team is Fozia Amanulla, who was recently appointed Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Boost Bank.

She leads an experienced digital bank team, encompassing expertise across technology, information security, product, risk and compliance, and more – leveraging fintech talent from Boost, banking expertise from RHB, and new capabilities from the wider industry.

“Axiata is committed to nurturing a dynamic digital banking ecosystem, from enabling digital wallets for over 10 million Boost customers to introducing more innovative digital banking solutions to the underserved and unserved segments of Malaysian society,” said Vivek Sood, Group Chief Executive Officer of Axiata Group Berhad.

“Our aim is to broaden the digital banking options available to those with limited access to conventional banking facilities, towards fostering an inclusive digital society for all Malaysians which aligns with Axiata’s vision of becoming the Next Generation Digital Champion,

“As we progress on our telco-techco journey, Axiata will continue to focus on its portfolio of assets including digital businesses to accelerate long-term value for our shareholders,” he added.

Sheyantha Abeykoon, Group Chief Executive Officer of Boost, said the firm remains committed to upholding the highest standards as we reimagine financial services responsibly, through the power of technology and data.

“This landmark achievement is a culmination of the symbiotic and strategic partnership between a leading fintech and successful financial institution with substantial ecosystems, united by a shared vision to drive greater financial inclusion,

“It is a monumental triumph that underscores the capabilities of our pioneering team, that built the bank from scratch. Our people are at the core of our innovation, and I have every confidence that the team will make our digital bank vision into reality,” he added.

Fozia Amanulla, Chief Executive Officer of Boost Bank, added she is truly humbled and honored to be leading this remarkable digital bank team as they pave the way, not only for the industry, but for the entire nation.

“Rooted in the fundamental belief that everyone deserves a bright financial future, we are determined to propel Malaysia into an age of true financial inclusivity, by harnessing the untapped potential of embedded finance with our digital bank,

“Backed by the consortium’s combined ecosystem and wealth of data, we are uniquely positioned to offer embedded finance,” she added.

Mohd Rashid Mohamad, Group Managing Director/Group Chief Executive Officer of RHB Banking Group, stated that the approval received from Bank Negara Malaysia and the Ministry of Finance marks a significant milestone in the bank’s joint commitment with Boost to foster a more inclusive financial ecosystem, especially for the underserved businesses and individuals in Malaysia.

“Under the dynamic leadership of Puan Fozia Amanulla and her experienced digital banking team, we are confident that Boost Bank is poised to take the lead in the digital fintech landscape,

“Together, we make progress happen for everyone, towards ensuring a robust and inclusive financial ecosystem that will benefit everyone in our diverse community,” he added.

The Boost-RHB Digital Bank Consortium, in which Boost holds 60 percent equity, and RHB owns the remaining 40 percent, was among the five successful license applicants announced by BNM in April 2022.

As the consortium commences its operations in phases following the completion of the operational readiness audit, they opined that Malaysia is poised to unlock the benefits of greater financial inclusion.

Boost is a regional full spectrum fintech arm of Axiata that provides financial services to users across seven countries in Southeast Asia.

The RHB Banking Group, with RHB Bank Berhad as the holding company, is one of the largest fully integrated financial services group in Malaysia.

The group’s regional presence now spans eight countries including Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Brunei, Cambodia, Vietnam and Lao PDR.

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