Malaysia’s RHB Bank has reportedly partnered with local telecommunications conglomerate Axiata to place a joint bid for a digital banking licence.

Reuters reported this quoted unnamed sources familiar with the development.

The move comes as the Malaysian central bank called for digital banking licencing applications by 30 June. The central bank is expected to issue up to five online-only bank licences.

The partnership between the two companies was not confirmed by either party.

However, in an email to Reuters, Axiata said that it will hold a press conference with RHB this week.

RHB Banking Group is a multinational financial services provider based in Malaysia.

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With a workforce of 14,000 people, the group is present in nine countries across the ASEAN region. It offers retail banking, asset management, wholesale banking and insurance among other services.

The increase in the use of smart phones and the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the growth in digital transactions. Several Asian regulators are also opening up the banking sector for digital players.

In December last year, Singapore awarded digital banking licences to four applicants. Grab-Singtel consortium and tech giant Sea gained full virtual banking licences.

China’s Ant Group and a coalition between Greenland Financial Holdings Group, Linklogis Hong Kong, and Beijing Co-operative Equity Investment Fund Management secured digital wholesale bank (DWB) licences.