To inspire companies and entrepreneurs to share the benefits of digitalisation, the Malaysian government recently introduced the concept of Digital Social Responsibility (DSR) during Budget 2020.
In tandem with the overarching theme of Shared Prosperity Vision 2030 (SPV2030) also unveiled recently, this new thrust calls on industry to play a key role in the development of the digital skills required by a future-ready workforce and emphasises the spirit of inclusivity.
This drive was fueled further by the country’s Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir’s announcements of fresh digital economy initiatives in October 2019, which included a global testbed to attract next-gen emerging technologies to innovate in Malaysia. Under this initiative, the government agency Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation’s (MDEC’s) role will be to foster development in the blockchain, drone and fintech sectors by attracting digital talents and interest from investors.
Referring to this national scenario, Dato’ Hussian Abdul Rahman of mobile fintech innovator MobilityOne listed on AIM explained recently that he had been considering Malaysia’s huge unbanked sector for some time.
According to the Malaysia’s National Bank (Bank Negara Malaysia, BNM) Financial Stability and Payment Systems Report 2017, the population of the unbanked in Malaysia stood at 8% or two million of the country’s 24 million adults. An important aspect of growing the digital economy and driving digital adoption includes addressing this segment.
His announcement a few months ago that Malaysian fintech company TFP Solutions will serve the unbanked in the country falls in line with the Malaysia’s growing determination to ensure the inclusivity theme of its digital transformation, he adds.
Dato’ Hussian is a highly respected entrepreneur within the Malaysian technology and financial services landscapes.
Back in July 2007, he had successfully listed MobilityOne on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) of the London Stock Exchange.
Today, more than 12 years later, MobilityOne is still going strong and has become synonymous with being an e-commerce infrastructure payment solutions and platform provider known to work closely with most telecommunications companies and financial institutions throughout Malaysia.
Mobile fintech vision 2020
Hussian is determined to expand on his next big vision: To bring mobile fintech to an unprecedented level in Malaysia and throughout the region.
His target market is the “unbanked” population (people without bank accounts) especially the foreign workers community.
As with most most Southeast Asian countries, Malaysia’s economy is heavily dependent on foreign workers to get the economy chugging along.
Hussian shared that studies done by the company indicate some 2 million Bangladeshis, a million Indonesians and 800,000 Nepalese currently residing and working throughout Malaysia.
“Currently, challenges arise for both employees and employers when it comes to salary payment. I have personally witnessed how a renowned plantation company had to carry RM1 million [about USD240,000] in cash to pay its workers,” he said.
“Such an act to pay salaries presents unnecessary risks for both employer and employees.”
Enter the convenience of e-wallets
Hussian believes that the solution would be for these foreign workers to have e-wallets embedded within SIM cards of their mobile phones.
As a result, TFP’s wholly-owned subsidiary MBP Solutions Sdn Bhd has tied up with Tune Talk to launch the OneCALL mobile fintech product.
Tune Talk is a is a mobile virtual network operator founded by Tony Fernandez of AirAsia who is also the owner of Queens Park Rangers (QPR) Football Club in the United Kingdom.
Said Hussian: “We aim to live up to our ‘OneCALL, settle all’ tagline by offering unique features such as remittance, virtual ATMs, game PINs, lifestyle tools and bill payments.”
“Subscribers are also able to enjoy Tune Talk’s mobile services such as approved voice, sms and/or data plans together with various benefits such as Tune Talk Big Points, flight redemptions and travel promotions with AirAsia, reward programmes from Tune Talk’s partners, as well as personal insurance all subject to terms and conditions of these benefits,” he added.
For plantation, construction, mining and manufacturing companies and even restaurants dependent on foreign labour, Hussian elaborated that TFP would eventually be able to incorporate its human resources management (HRM) and payroll system with eWallet into OneCALL.
“Our HRM and payroll solutions are already well-known for various functions such as scheduling of workers schedule, online leave system, claims management and issuing payroll statements.
“By integrating OneCALL into our existing solutions, we aim to develop an e-wallet which would allow enterprises to directly deposit salaries to their employees’ e-wallets,” he said, adding that the company is currently awaiting approval from Bank Negara Malaysia (the country’s central bank) and the relevant authorities for this to happen.
When asked about numbers, Hussian cited Bank Negara’s estimate that some two million do not have bank facilities and live by the day by cash alone.
“In addition, we estimate that some 66% of foreign workers also do not have banking facilities.”
“This is where we would eventually come in with our “OneCALL mobile fintech solution to ‘settle all’,” concluded Hussian.
By Avanti Kumar – former weekly consumer tech & devices review columnist for five years with CNet, The Sun and Sunday Mail in Malaysia. Now independent columnist for various media. Reformed consultant/executive coach. Other articles by Avanti.