Digital banking licence will boost S’wak’s digital economy ambitions, says CM

Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg - file pic

By Adrian Lim

KUCHING, Nov 23: Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg believes that the business community in Sarawak will benefit from faster banking services using digital banking in the future rather than through conventional physical banking services.

“I am a firm believer of digital transformation. A lot of retail banks have many branches. With this digital transformation, the time will come, the banking industry will have fewer branches. But the transactions will be based on digital (online) transactions.

“I think that’s why Malaysia is going to issue this (digital banking) licence,” he said during a webinar organised by Sarawak Business Federation (SBF) today.

Abang Johari noted that Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) recently looked into the possibility of issuing digital banking licences and that Sarawak is taking advantage of this to get a head start in digital banking in Malaysia.

He observed that Singapore has already adopted digital banking services.

Abang Johari explained that the digital banking licence will complement the state’s mobile payment platform, Sarawak Pay to provide digital payment services.

“The future of strengthening business transactions will be done digitally; especially we have Kuala Lumpur and Singapore which are regional financial centres. In other words, Sarawak must be leading (connected) to those financial centres,” he added.

Abang Johari also highlighted that obtaining the digital banking licence for the state is in tandem with Sarawak’s digital economy ambitions. The state is upgrading its digital infrastructure by building more telecommunication towers through the Sarawak Multimedia Authority (SMA) and the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC).

He believed the business community in Sarawak can take advantage of this digital infrastructure by using the concept of digital banking for efficient business transactions.

“It (digital banking) is meant for the business community. Once you have efficient banking services, I think your business will come up as a regional centre,” he asserted.

Abang Johari disclosed the state government has applied for the digital banking licence with the Finance Ministry and BNM and is awaiting approval.

He hoped that by 2023, the digital banking services will be implemented in Sarawak for the benefit of the business community.

Earlier, SBF deputy president Datuk Philip Ting who is also the moderator of the webinar asked Abang Johari to reveal his plan for the application of the digital banking licence.

Ting had also asked the chief minister about the timeline for the rollout of digital banking services in Sarawak.

Meanwhile, Abang Johari in his winding-up speech for the state’s budget at the recent Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting on November 13 disclosed that the state government has applied for a digital banking licence from BNM.

He noted that sales are increasingly taking place online over digital platforms as the landscape of doing business has become more challenging.

Thus, he foresees the new banking infrastructure will complement the state’s development agenda which is to move Sarawak towards a high income status by 2030. — DayakDaily