Axiata scores more backing for digital finance moves

Singapore-based insurance company Great Eastern invested $70 million in the services arm of Group, funds which will be used to expand the unit’s fintech play.

The insurance company acquired a 21.9 per cent stake in Boost Holdings, the holding company for the operator’s digital financial services play, with its Axiata Digital Services unit retaining the remaining stake.

Together they will oversee a portfolio comprising e-wallet app Boost, which counts more than 7.5 million users and 170,000 merchants on its books with a further 544,000 retailers on an Indonesian variant; Aspirasi, a micro-finance and insurance set-up which already dispensed more than $20 million in loans; and a joint venture with a bank in Bangladesh.

The partners will also explore options to extend digital financial services to other Axiata Group markets, with a focus on growing merchant and customer numbers, upgrading Aspirasi’s credit scoring technology, and a potential banking move.

Earlier this year, Axiata Digital said it was interested in the digital banking licences to be offered by Malaysia’s central bank and started work preparing an application.

Great Eastern CEO Khor Hock Seng said Axiata’s focus “on providing financial services for the underserved, unbanked and under-insured customer segment” was a good fit for its strategy.

Axitata Digital CEO Khairil Abdullah added emerging technologies would enable it to develop services which “narrow the financial inclusion and protection gap”.

The funding is the third strategic investment secured by Axiata Digital, following a $20 million move by Sumitomo in 2018, and a $50 million injection from Mitsui Group in 2019.

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