Malaysian lender RHB Bank is aiming to launch a digital banking platform as soon as the second half of 2023, Bloomberg reported. 

RHB Bank, in collaboration with its partner Boost, a unit of Axiata Group, could invest up to MYR1bn ($212m) in the digital bank, RHB CEO Mohd Rashid Mohamad said in an interview. 

“We plan to launch the digital bank in the second half of next year or latest by the first quarter of 2024,” the RHB chief told the publication. 

Established entities, such as RHB, which is among the leading banking players in the country, are facing competition from fintechs. 

RHB was one of the five applicants to receive a digital banking licence from the central bank of Malaysia in April this year. 

Responding to why the digital banking joint venture will have such a long development period, Mohamad said: “We are building the digital bank from scratch. We need to put up a new core banking system and infrastructure product proposition that are in line with Bank Negara’s requirements.”

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Through the new entity, RHB aims to expand its operations to cover the “unserved and underserved community” by offering them banking services. 

“We will be using more of AI and technologies to assess their credit based on the data points and models that we have put in place,” the bank’s top executive said. 

The lender is also looking to bolster its operations in other Southeast Asian markets, including launching a mobile app offering full banking services in Cambodia later this year.