The race for grab virtual banking licence in Malaysia has intensified as Grab, Razer, AirAsia, Axiata and lender CIMB are mulling to apply for it, Reuter has reported.

At the fag of last year, Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) – the country’s central bank – said that that it will grant up to five digital bank licence to qualified applicants.

To be eligible to apply for the licence, the central set a minimum capital requirement of MYR100m ($24.5m) for the applicants, which would surge to RM300m ($73.7m) consequently.

Digital banks, as per the draft proposals, will have to offer products and services to under-served and unserved segments.

Local financial firms such as Hong Leong Bank and Maybank are also in the fray, sources familiar with the development told Reuters.

The draft proposal also says that preference will be accorded to the applicants with capital governed by firms in the region.

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“The bank has adopted a balanced approach to enable admission of digital banks with strong value propositions whilst safeguarding the integrity and stability of the financial system as well as depositors’ interests, taking into account that such digital banks have not operated in a full financial and economic cycle,” BNM said in a statement when it first announced the decision.

A proposed licensing system is currently under progress and is expected to finish by the first half of this year.

Many other Asian countries are opening the doors to their banking system for emerging companies and tech firms to boost financial inclusion.

Singapore has recently confirmed that it received 21 applications for its five digital bank licences.