Tuesday, 25 June 2024

AEON Bank launches Malaysia’s first Shariah-compliant digital platform for underserved, tech-savvy customers

5 min read

Raja Teh Maimunah, CEO of AEON Bank, provides insights into Malaysia's first Shariah-compliant digital bank, which is poised to transform banking. With an emphasis on Generation Z, Alpha consumers, and SMEs, AEON combines history and innovation to provide comprehensive financial services.

As Malaysia embraces digital finance, Raja Teh Maimunah, CEO of AEON Bank, discussed the heritage and strategies that are shaping the country’s first Shariah-compliant digital bank. The bank was officially launched on 26 May. It is also one of just five digital banks awarded a licence by the regulator. With a focus on Generation Z and Alpha customers, and small businesses, AEON Bank is poised to redefine banking in a nation steeped in AEON Group’s 40-year legacy. 

Raja Teh is focused on blending technology with traditional banking, promising a new era of digital financial services tailored to the digitally-savvy who remain economically and financially underserved.

Generation Z, born between 1997 and 2012, and the emerging Alpha segment, born between 2010 and 2024, are presenting a fundamental shift in banking needs and behaviours. Unlike their predecessors, the customers in the younger demographics are digital natives. 

Raja Teh observed: “They want to bank with and have a banking experience that is totally different from what their parents have.” This understanding informs AEON Bank’s strategy to deliver a banking experience that is not only intuitive but seamlessly integrated into digital lifestyles. “We’re not just creating a bank; we’re creating a lifestyle enabler,” she added. 

AEON Bank also seeks to tap into the vital but often-neglected small-business market segment. Raja Teh highlighted a MYR 90 billion ($18.8 billion) financing gap here that is not narrowing any time soon. She shared insights into AEON’s approach to transforming business banking by leveraging data and technology to offer tailored financial solutions to serve small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). 

The Group’s 40-year presence in Malaysia has given it a robust foundation for the new digital bank. Its legacy of robust retail growth and sticky customers is a cornerstone of its market strategy; the long-standing relationships with Malaysians give it a unique advantage in understanding and meeting their needs in a digital context.

Alongside, AEON Financial has mastered the nuances of financing and card services in Malaysia on the back of 28 years of experience. The transition to a digital-first approach is a natural evolution, offering customers the “something extra” they’re looking for, said Raja Teh.

Drawing from her extensive background in corporate and investment banking, Raja Teh is no stranger to innovation. Her vision for AEON Bank is clear. She explained: “We have to start reaching out to customers differently. We have to be more solution-oriented, and not just sell products.” Her strategy focuses on seamless and secure digital transactions, without physical branches, making banking accessible to more customers.

As AEON Bank gears up for its launch, key milestones outlined by Raja Teh include establishing core banking functionalities and integrating AEON’s retail loyalty programmes into the digital banking experience. “First and foremost, payments and transfers—that you cannot get wrong,” she asserts, highlighting the importance of a flawless transactional process.

However, challenges loom large, notably in educating a population still new to the concept of branchless banking. Explaining and educating, participating—Raja Teh lists the hurdles, emphasising the need to build trust and awareness around digital banking services.

Raja Teh is steering AEON Bank into a future where digital banking is intuitive and simple, synonymous with an enhanced lifestyle, and business growth for SMEs. As Malaysia stands on the cusp of a paradigm shift, AEON Bank is not just participating in the change; it is determined to lead it. 

Watch the full interview here.

Keywords: Shariah Compliant, Digital Finance, Generation Z, Alpha Segment, Digital Transformation, Small Businesses, Financial Inclusion, Digital Lifestyle, Sme Finance, Customer Experience, Branchless Banking, Fintech Innovation, Digital Payments, Future Of Banking
Institution: AEON Bank
Country: Malaysia
Region: Asia
People: Raja Teh Maimunah
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