Malaysian Telecom firm Axiata Group is reportedly in talks with 11 different partners to jointly bid for Malaysian digital banking licence.

Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM), the country’s central bank, is planning to issue up to five digital banking licences by the end of 2020.

If the telecom firm manages to bag the licence, it intends to launch a virtual bank by the second half of 2021.

The move was unveiled by Axiata deputy CEO Mohd Izzaddin at its financial results briefing.

Izzaddin revealed that the group is being “pursued by several parties” to partner for the bid.

He said: “We have provided our comments, and have been engaging with Bank Negara.

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“Hopefully, we can form the partnership that’s needed and make the submission in June.”

Izzaddin did not reveal the names of the 11 partners the company is speaking with.

Axiata already has a digital financial services arm called Axiata Digital, which currently operates an e-wallet called Boost and a micro-lending platform named Aspirasi.

Aspirasi said to have issued RM50m ($11.83m) in microloans to 9000 merchants.

The companies conducting conventional or Islamic banking business in Malaysia are potential applicants to be approved for the five licences.

Singapore based ridesharing company Grab is also said to be eyeing the Malaysian digital banking licence.

Apart from Grab, non-banks such as AirAsia and gaming giants like Razer and CIMB have also submitted their bids for the licence.