Malaysian challenger bank BigPay hauls in $100m to fund Asian expansion

BigPay, the FinTech arm of airline AirAsia, has secured an investment of $100m from South Korea’s SK Group to further its mission to become the leading challenger bank in Southeast Asia.

AirAsia Group says the new funding “further strengthens [our] digital endeavour” as it continues the expansion of its digital businesses and financial services across the region.

Founded in 2017, BigPay offers users in Malaysia and Singapore a digital wallet complete with prepaid debit card, local and international money transfers, micro-insurance, bill payments and a budgeting tool.

The firm currently has a presence in Malaysia and Singapore and is planning to expand into Thailand following AirAsia’s $50m acquisition of digital payments firm Gojek’s Thai division last month.

According to the airline, this is the first time any portfolio company within AirAsia digital has secured financing of this size. The investment comes weeks after BigPay announced its application for a digital banking license in Malaysia as it seeks to broaden the scope of its offering. BigPay also reportedly entered into a consortium with Malaysia’s financial institution MIDF and Ikhlas Capital, a Singapore-based private equity fund manager for the application.

BigPay CEO Salim Dhanani said, “Our mission is to become a leading challenger bank across Southeast Asia. We’ve established ourselves in Malaysia as one of the leading providers of digital banking services, and we want to expand our product sets, along with growing the model to new markets.”

AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes said that SK Group’s investment into one of its portfolio companies is “a testament to its digital growth story”, adding that AirAsia can tap on SK’s expertise and know-how. “I am excited for this great partnership with SK Group and for their belief in BigPay’s mission to bring inclusivity to financial services,” said Fernandes.

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