TWO months after returning to the helm of Green Packet Bhd, technology whiz C.C. Puan laid out his vision for the group – to become a digital financial institution of some reckoning.
The idea was also to make Malaysia the gold standard for financial inclusion in the Asean region.
Some employees were skeptical. Could a telco like Green Packet really play in the financial space in such a big way?
That was back in September 2019. Fast forward to today, and Puan’s single-minded and dogged approach has given Green Packet the confidence that it can secure a digital banking licence in Malaysia.
Here are some reasons why Green Packet may just pull it off.
Last week, Green Packed announced a venture with China Internet giant Tencent as its local partner for an AI-enabled e-KYC product.
This may sound like a lot of tech garble to the uninitiated, but there are two key takeaways from this deal.
One is that Tencent owns WeBank, the top digital bank in China which since its formation in 2014 has led the space in terms of its asset quality, profitability and return on equity.
WeBank is also a success story in the usage of technology in banking; its chat box handles 98% of customer enquiries and its eKYC facial recognition solution has fulfilled over 640 million identity verification requests.
Secondly, KYC or “know your customer” is a fundamental block in banking today, more so with new entrants into the market who need to prove to banking regulators that their systems are using the latest technology to weed out illegal monies entering the banking system.
Green Packet has done more towards this digital banking dream.
It is the first local tech firm to be licensed by Bank Negara Malaysia to build “white-labelled” ewallet solutions for Malaysian enterprises. This service already powers brands like Petronas’ Setel, a fuel epayment solution available at more than 700 Petronas petrol stations nationwide.
More impressive is that Green Packet has deeply entrenched itself in one significant under-banked group in Malaysia – the student market.
It powers payment systems in two large public universities, enabling students to make digital payments from their ewallet for food and books.
Digitising student loan disbursement and zakat payment is also being tackled. Green Packet works with Bank Islam, the country’s largest Islamic bank, in this venture, another sign of the group’s inroads into the local banking scene.
The student market focus is not the only niche Green Packet has focused on. Green Packet has become the fintech partner to facilitate fund disbursement under some state welfare programmes.
More recently, Green Packet built a digital platform for the Coalition of Malay Small Traders to enable its 20,000 merchants and bazaar traders to resume business during the pandemic.
For Puan, the journey to digital financial institution is a natural progression from what the company set out to do on day one.
“If you follow our journey, you will see that our ethos have been to get life-improving digital innovations into the hands of the masses.
“We have built an ecosystem for this under our Kiple brand. Getting the digital bank licence will enable us to unlock more financial services for our user base, ” said Puan, who is Green Packet group managing director and chief executive officer.
Green Packet also has a track record of operating in a regulated space, having built from scratch a nationwide telecommunications network within two years of securing a 4G licence from the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission back in 2007.
Green Packet secured South Korea’s largest mobile phone operator SK Telecom Co Ltd as a partner in that project.
“We have demonstrated our ability to raise funds, partner with global names, and build and operate a nationwide telecoms network. We sunk in capital to the tune of RM2bil and turned Ebitda positive within five years, ” enthused Puan.
Following a successful exit of that business, Green Packet moved into the fintech space.
It also has a significant venture into the proptech arena, with a licence plate recognition that is fast becoming popular among building owners in Malaysia.
It is under this proptech division that Green Packet recently launched a suite of products under its We Are Ready campaign, which aims to get Malaysian businesses to embrace new norms to following the Covid-19 pandemic.
The move is actually a pivot. If successful, it will prove that Green Packet has the ability to quickly adjust its products and services to suit market needs, a trait that venture capitalists look for when assessing start-ups.
“With the pandemic, we worked around the clock to repurpose our solutions to address the needs of businesses as lockdowns eased, ” said Puan.
KipleLive addresses thermal scanning, facial ID with masks on, visitor registration to assist with contact tracing, and software to manage employee rosters, schedule disinfection activities and supplement communication needs.
Naturally, KipleLive solutions will link to the group’s digital payment system. The move paves the way for broadening its target groups for its fintech solutions, thus strengthening its interest in the digital banking space.
And with its ability to find top rated global names as partners, it is very likely that Green Packet would take the consortium route when it does put in its bid for the digital bank licence in Malaysia. Tencent and WeBank cannot be ruled out as potential partners. The same with Bank Islam.
“Consortiums are the way to go when bidding for a digital bank licence to bring in multi-party expertise, resources and consumer relationships. Green Packet is assessing suitors and we are getting ready, ” Puan shared.