‘No digital banking licence, no worries’: S’wak has other options to develop Digital Economy, says Satok rep

A screengrab from a Sarawak Public Communications Unit (Ukas) livestream shows Ibrahim gesturing while debating the TYT's address during the DUN sitting.

By Nur Ashikin Louis

KUCHING, May 19: Lightning never strikes twice so Sarawak will focus on ‘other options’ and not appeal to Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) after not getting approval for a digital banking licence.

Dato Ibrahim Baki (PBB-Satok) questioned BNM’s decision to not consider Sarawak into its list of approved entities especially when one of the five successful applicants is a foreign entity from Singapore.

“The question is, why are we (Sarawak) not considered? What were the actual criteria? There is even a perception that someone does not want Sarawak to progress too fast. On that, I am not sure,” he said during a debate session in the Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting here earlier today.

He explained that among key factors behind the digital banking rollout is to ensure that the unserved, underserved and unreached are connected via cashless mode, noting there are those who do not have access to commercial banks like rural folks in Sarawak who can hardly find a commercial bank branch for miles around.

“Without relying solely on the federal government via Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), Sarawak took the initiative to improve our Internet connectivity and other digital infrastructure aggressively, in preparation for digital banking which would have been ideal, even though we have options.

“Of course, a decision by Bank Negara or MOF doesn’t mean it is game over for us. We still have our e-wallet, the first in Malaysia called S Pay Global, and we also collaborated with UnionPay International, hence reinforcing our presence in the global market,” he added.

Ibrahim who is also the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) DUN whip chief further said that the government should build and speed up the successful arrangement where to date, Sarawak has over 610,000 users and 87,000 merchants with transactions worth over RM2 billion.

“The Bank Negara governor announced that they will cap the digital banking license to five. They might be pre-empting that he others might appeal, but not us as announced by the Premier of Sarawak. For this, I say we don’t want ‘kong kali kong’ (empty talk).

“Bank Negara also repeated that the five digital bank licences will focus on and reach our rural folks – the unreached and unserved! We will see if it happens.

“Borrowing the statement from the Deputy Premier (Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian), ‘jangan kita tengok sahaja’ (end up with nothing)!” he emphasised. — DayakDaily