Asean digital bank in the making


  • Corporate News
  • Friday, 25 Sep 2020

KUALA LUMPUR: AirAsia Group Bhd has rebranded its digital ventures under AirAsia Digital, and aims to evolve AirAsia.com to become an Asean “super app”, that will be an all-in-one platform for travel, food delivery, shopping, logistics, health and financial services.

The low-cost carrier’s CEO Tan Sri Tony Fernandes said the group can leverage on its database of 60 million customers.

“Even in this Covid-19 world, AirAsia.com is still one of the most high-traffic apps and websites in South-East Asia and Asia. We are going to open that very powerful app and website to many more products, ” he told a media briefing here.

Fernandes explained that AirAsia Digital is underpinned by Teleport (cross-border logistics operations), BigPay (fintech company), BigLife (loyalty programme) and Santan (food and beverage) as well as RedBeat Academy (training centre collaborating with Google) and Data Centre (data consultancy unit).

The group also has plans for BigPay to become the first Asean digital bank.

“We believe that with our data and our brand, we can be the first Asean digital bank. We will apply for a banking licence when that becomes available in the not-too-distant future, ” he said.

He pointed out that BigPay is now the largest e-wallet by gross transaction value size in Malaysia, and will also be launched in Singapore within a few weeks.

“We already have a wait list of 20,000 people in Singapore. BigPay is payments, remittance and very soon, a lending product as well. To increase the velocity and number of transactions on Airasia.com, some of the BigPay features will also be on Airasia.com, ” he said.

Fernandes also said the group would also move into offering more insurance products besides travel insurance.

“We are going to build a wealth management portal as well on AirAsia.com for those who want to buy unit trusts, or get loans, ” he said.

Fernandes also pointed out that except for BigPay, the other digital ventures are profitable.

“BigPay is not profitable because of the interchange fees, which we are discussing with the regulators.”

He said AirAsia.com was confident of success due to its low customer acquisition costs, an in-app social engagement chat platform, a single sign-on process, and an easy and secure one-click immediate checkout.

“AirAsia Connect, which will be launched soon, is our chat channel – very similar to WeChat, a community based and one-to-one chat app. We already have a million users. Also, via a single sign-on process, you can transact on AirAsia.com and any of of our sites.”Fernandes also said the group was exploring options to raise more funds to grow AirAsia Digital.

“In terms of capital, we don’t have a number. It could be convertible debt or equity. We just started the process. But we don’t need a lot of money. We built these on our own capital, so far.”

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