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马来西亚的金融科技野心

互联网经济国际资讯

马来西亚的金融科技野心

作为拥有3000多万人口的东南亚发展中国家,马来西亚经历了颇为动荡的几年。在上届总理被卷入国际贪污丑闻后,现年92岁的马哈蒂尔出人意料地再次当选该国国家领导人,并承诺会推进多项重要改革。

马来西亚身负1万亿马来西亚林吉特(约合1.67万亿人民币)国债,设立了希望基金(Tabung Harapan Malaysia)鼓励民众和企业向指定银行捐款。借助 GoGetFunding.com 等网站,民间也自发策划了各种众筹活动。

这为我们展望 Fintech(金融科技)在“马来西亚2.0”的发展提供了参考,在这个“获得新生”的国家,未来的重心将是打击腐败、改善经济。该国的政界人士也纷纷变身技术达人,开始认识到科技在国家治理和政策制定中将发挥关键作用。来自马来西亚华人公会的一位竞选人就曾表示,如果当选,他将利用区块链技术来提升政府透明度。

什么是 Fintech(金融科技)?

根据 Journal of Innovation Management 的定义,“‘金融科技’是利用技术改善金融活动的新型金融业。”

金融科技公司中既有初创公司,也有传统金融公司,它们都尝试取代或改善现有金融机构的服务,智能手机的普及则助推了该行业的增长。

除了初创公司,传统金融机构也加入了这一行业革命:许多银行建立了自己的金融科技创新项目,谋求制胜的新点子,进而改变人们的理财方式。

金融科技在马来

图片来源:1337 Ventures

马来西亚早期孵化器和投资公司1337 Ventures 制作了一张覆盖不同细分市场的马来西亚金融科技生态图,从这张图来看,该国大部分金融科技公司都集中在支付和贷款领域。

考虑到马来西亚的人口结构——超过一半的人为穆斯林,伊斯兰金融(遵从伊斯兰教规的金融交易活动)在该国也占据重要位置,增长潜力可观。

调查结果显示,马来西亚金融科技发展十分不均,有的细分市场无人问津,有的则是一片红海,1337 Ventures 认为这“十分具有启发性”。公司近期还推出了专门针对金融科技领域的孵化前速成培训课程。课程持续四周,由当地银行高层担任讲师。

在电子钱包领域,KrASIA 近期曾报道游戏公司 Razer 与马来西亚巨头 Berjaya Corporation Berhad 联手推出的电子钱包 APP。目前,该服务已入驻6000多个线下零售点。尽管在马来西亚,电子钱包领域已是玩家众多的细分市场,甚至不乏中国玩家——支付宝和微信支付的身影,Razer 的进入还是掀起了波澜。与此同时,东南亚网约车平台 Grab 也于去年进入支付领域,在新加坡推出了Grab Pay,今年6月又将业务扩张到了马来西亚。

Razer Pay 于2018年7月面市

比价网站在马来西亚也很受欢迎,主要玩家包括新加坡的 GoBear 和马来西亚的 iMoney。两家平台都为用户提供保险和信用卡等金融产品的鉴别和比价服务。iMoney 成立于2012,2017年接受采访时曾表示,虽然其业务已覆盖整个东南亚,但公司超过一半的营收仍来自马来西亚。

“我们在马来西亚有两年的先发优势,所以一直在增长。但在菲律宾和印尼等市场,我们还多多少少处于完善自身的阶段,覆盖的领域也没那么多,”iMoney 的 CEO Lee Ching Wei 说。

1337 Ventures 还列出了那些至今仍是蓝海的细分领域,包括信用评级、房地产网站和资本市场交易。

监管环境

对马来西亚金融科技行业的监管主要与融资和股权众筹有关。

马来西亚国家银行(Bank Negara Malaysia)——同时也是该国的中央银行——先是在2016年发布了金融科技监管沙盒框架,旨在为金融科技打造友好的发展环境,促进马来西亚金融产业增长。

据安永会计师事务所2016年的一份探讨金融科技合规性和监管环境报告,通常而言,监管沙盒的作用是:以试点的方式对部分私营企业放宽、甚至免除现行的监管限制。

被纳入框架的公司在面对个人和企业客户时将享有优势。当然,并非所有公司都能成为试点单位,需要满足的条件包括但不限于:

· 有真正能被称为创新的产品、服务或解决方案,能提高金融服务的可达性、效率、安全系数和质量

· 证明公司已对产品、服务或解决方案的效用、功能和相关风险进行过充分、正确的评估

· 拥有开展沙盒测试所需的资源,能缓解和控制与公司提供的产品、服务和解决方案相关的风险和损失

· 制定有现实的商业计划,能在退出沙盒框架后将其产品、服务或解决方案在马来西亚商业化

“参加监管沙盒项目能帮助企业获取客户……毕竟谁会想要把钱交给没被监管机构批准或认可的企业呢?”MoneyMatch(马来西亚一家 fintech 初创公司)CEO Adrian Yap 在接受采访时说。MoneyMatch 于2017年年中获得马来西亚国家银行批准,是迄今为止四家被纳入监管沙盒框架的企业之一。

马来西亚国家银行;央行

Yap 补充说,“汇付和货币兑换领域也已经开放,市场里的一些大玩家也开始寻求与我们合作。加入沙盒肯定是有好处的。”

马来西亚国家银行还设立了金融科技赋能组织,其网站显示,该组织“主要负责制定和完善监管策略,提升创新型科技在马来西亚金融服务行业的普及率。”

2015年,马来西亚发布规范股权众筹活动的法规,成为东南亚第一个颁布相关法律的国家。股权众筹是指私企向投资者出售部分股份。

根据 Invest Smart 2016年的一份股权众筹报告(Invest Smart 是马来西亚证券委员会投资者权益保障倡议下的一个项目),2015年颁布的新法规内容包括:

· 投资者投资单家公司的金额不得超过5000马来西亚林吉特(8381.5元人民币)

· 投资者享有6天的冷却期,在此期间可撤回全部投资

· 投资者12个月内参与股权众筹的总金额不得超过5万马来西亚林吉特(83815元人民币)

截止2016年,已有六家股权众筹平台向马来西亚证券委员会登记,包括 pitchIN、Alix Global、Crowdo、Eureeca、Ata Plus 和 Propellar CrowdPlus。

展望2018及未来

马来西亚的金融科技版图显然还存在尚未开垦的领域。

与已建立起稳定增长创新制度的近邻新加坡不同,马来西亚的基础设施建设还未完全到位。不过,该国享有丰富的资源,这为其取得加速发展创造了条件。光是人口规模就足以证明,马来西亚是东南亚的重要市场。

在一些细分市场,部分玩家势头正猛,资本持续从本国和海外涌入,监管环境也有利于创业,种种迹象表明,马来西亚的确潜力无限。

It has been a tumultuous last few years for Malaysia, a Southeast Asian developing nation with a population of over 30 million people. Ridden with an international graft scandal, the country’s people recently elected 92-year-old former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad as its leader in an unexpected win, promising many key reforms.

The country, which owes RM 1 trillion (around $246 billion) in national debt, has also established the Tabung Harapan Malaysia fund, a way for people and companies to donate money through transferring money into a specified bank account. At the grassroots level, people have also started their own crowdfunding campaigns through sites like GoGetFunding.com and others.

This provides a glimpse of how financial technology (fintech) will work in the ‘new’ Malaysia, essentially Malaysia 2.0, as it looks towards ridding corruption and improving its economy. Politicians are also becoming increasingly tech-savvy, understanding that tech has a crucial role to play in governance and policy-making; for example, one particular candidate from the Malaysian Chinese Association said that, if elected, he would use blockchain to ensure transparency.

While that might be a tall order, it is important for the rest of Southeast Asia to see the potential that lies within the fintech space in Malaysia, especially given the new administration.

What’s fintech anyway?

According to the Journal of Innovation Management, ‘fintech’ is a new financial industry that applies technology to improve financial activities.”

Financial technology companies come from both the startup world and traditional financial services sector, as both are trying to replace or enhance the usage of financial services provided by existing financial institutions, and its growth can be partially attributed to the proliferation of smartphones.

This is not limited to startups as financial institutions are getting involved in the revolution; many banks have already started their own fintech innovation programmes hoping to mine the next winning idea that will change how people use their money.

Fintech in Malaysia

According to Malaysian early stage accelerator and investment firm 1337 Ventures, which published an opportunity map displaying the breakdown on verticals within fintech, most of the existing fintech firms in the country are operating out of the payments and lending verticals.

There is also the potential for growth within the Islamic Finance vertical, which is key given Malaysia’s demographics, with more than half the country identifying as Muslim.

The company noted that the results have been “eye-opening in the sense that it highlights the fact that [Malaysia] is lacking fintech startups in some categories while being heavily populated in other verticals”. It also just launched its latest pre-accelerator programme, a four-week fintech-oriented crash course with mentors from various local banks in the country.

Within the e-wallet space, we reported yesterday that gaming firm Razer has debuted its e-wallet app in partnership with Malaysian conglomerate Berjaya Corporation Berhad, allowing the app to be used at over 6,000 establishments. This is an overcrowded space with many players, but Razer’s participation has shaken things up, especially with Chinese e-wallet apps Alipay and WeChat Payalready in the Malaysian market. Southeast Asian vehicle-hailing platform Grab also made its first foray into payment last year with Grab Pay in Singapore, a move it replicated in Malaysia in June 2018.

Comparison sites are also popular among Malaysians, with companies like Singapore-based GoBear and Malaysian firm iMoney, both platforms that allow consumers to verify and compare various financial products from insurance to credit cards. Founded in 2012, iMoney said in an interview with The Edge in 2017 that while it operates across the region, its home country still brings in more than half of its revenue.

“In Malaysia, we had a two-year head start so it’s all about growing. In markets like the Philippines and Indonesia, there’s still a degree of building involved and we do not have as many verticals there as well,” said Lee Ching Wei, CEO, iMoney.

Verticals that can use a bit more competition include credit scoring companies, real estate sites, and capital market trades, according to 1337.

Regulations in Malaysia

Most regulations within the Malaysian fintech space have to do with financing and equity crowdfunding solutions.

Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM), which is the central bank of Malaysia, first issued the Financial Technology Regulatory Sandbox Framework in 2016, aiming to create a conducive environment for fintech to thrive and add to the growth of the country’s financial industry.

Commonly, sandboxes help private companies work with governments to test its offerings “with greater flexibility or even exemptions from existing regulation”, described multinational firm Ernst & Young in a 2016 report on compliance and regulations within fintech.

Companies that are accepted into the framework might find it easier to work with customers, both enterprises and consumers. Of course, not any company can get accepted; requirements include but are not limited to:

  • Having a product, service or solution that is genuinely innovative, with the potential to improve accessibility, efficiency, security and quality in the provision of financial services
  • Being able to prove that an adequate and appropriate assessment has been done to demonstrate the usefulness and functionality of the product, service or solution and identify associated risks
  • Having the necessary resources to support testing in the sandbox, including being able to mitigate and control potential risks and losses arising from the offering of the product, service or solution
  • Having a realistic business plan to deploy the product, service or solution on a commercial scale in Malaysia after leaving the sandbox

“It helps with the customer adoption rate…which customer would want to hand over money to a company that’s not licensed or recognised by the regulator?” shared Adrian Yap, CEO, MoneyMatch in an interview with Digital News Asia. MoneyMatch was one of the four companies announced to have been approved by BNM in mid-2017.

Yap added, “A lot of doors have actually opened in the remittance and money exchange space as well. The bigger players in the market have also started wanting to work with us. So there are definitely benefits that have come from being in the sandbox.”

BNM also set up the Financial Technology Enabler Group, which is “responsible for formulating and enhancing regulatory policies to facilitate the adoption of technological innovations in the Malaysian financial services industry”, according to its website.

Malaysia was also the first country in Southeast Asia to roll out laws regarding equity crowdfunding (ECF) when it passed a bill in 2015 to regulate the vertical. Equity crowdfunding refers to when investors acquire a percentage of ownership in a private company receiving the investment.

According to a 2016 report on ECF by Invest Smart, a campaign under Securities Commission Malaysia’s Investor Empowerment initiative, some new rules under the 2015 bill include:

  • The maximum investment amount investors can invest is RM 5,000 ($1,232) for each issuer
  • Investors will have a 6-day cooling off period during which they can withdraw the full amount of their investment.
  • The maximum total investment amount investors can make through ECF is RM 50,000 ($12,323) within a 12-month period.

As of 2016, six ECF platforms have registered themselves with the Securities Commission: pitchIN, Alix Global, Crowdo, Eureeca, Ata Plus, and Propellar CrowdPlus.

2018 and beyond

Clearly, fintech remains a space in Malaysia where there are still uncharted paths to trek.

Unlike its closest neighbour Singapore, which might have built up a stable infrastructure for growth and innovation, Malaysia might have it slightly rockier. However, Malaysia has the resources that can help it accelerate its progress, like the sheer population size alone that has obviously proven it to be a valuable market within Southeast Asia.

While there are strong incumbents gaining traction in a few crowded markets, with increasing capital being poured into the country be it from local firms or foreign corporations, and regulations that seem to favour the entrepreneurial spirit, the state of things do look promising.


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