Friday, February 3, 2023
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Editor's PickAl Rajhi Bank Malaysia unveils Islamic digital bank; preparing SME products and...

Al Rajhi Bank Malaysia unveils Islamic digital bank; preparing SME products and open finance marketplace

The Malaysian arm of the world’s largest Islamic bank has unveiled its virtual bank, becoming the second Shariah bank in the Southeast Asian nation to tap the market with a fully digital Islamic banking proposition.

Right on schedule, Al Rajhi Bank Malaysia (ARBM) today launched Rize, its cloud-native digital bank after about a year of development. Rize currently offers retail products and services including personal financing, debit card and personal finance management, among others. It also offers a savings pot feature which offers a profit rate, the first in Malaysia.

The Islamic digital bank expects to progressively roll out more features over the next few months.

Among them is an open finance marketplace, CEO Arsalaan (Oz) Ahmed confirmed with IFN Fintech. The embedded finance ecosystem will include, among others, embedded Takaful and charitable finance.

“We have to understand that in order to truly put the customer at the center, we need to give complementary offerings from partners who offer products and services that we either can’t or are better at. It will start in the next few weeks and it will continue to build and we hope it will build until it becomes a world-leading ecosystem for embedded finance — we hope to achieve this in 2023,” Oz said.

Oz also revealed that the digital bank will be expanding its focus beyond retail to include small businesses.

“We want to keep it quiet but it won’t be unreasonable to expect us to do something for SMEs because we are very clear about the fact that we want to help the real economy. And when we look at SMEs, ‘S’ is typically not well served. We are going to try our very best to do something that hasn’t been done yet in Malaysia.”

ARBM’s aggressive digital push is in lockstep with its Saudi parent which has embarked on its multiyear ‘Bank of the Future’ strategy to become digital-ready. It engaged a host of partners including Oliver Wyman which designed and built the mobile bank and Feedzai to provide cybersecurity services. The bank also poached fintech expert Ikram Khaliq to head its digital banking operations early this year.

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