RHB Bank Malaysia


RHB Bank Berhad has been on a digital journey to introduce small-to-medium sized enterprise (SME) Online Financing and digital submission of applications. In the past year its added three extra new elements: (i) a self-initiated SME Mobile app, with MyKad mobile verification; (ii) Original Character Recognition (OCR) capabilities to automatically extract data from bank statements & further speed up processes; & (iii) Smart Interview virtual due diligence. These and its planned other advances meant it won Best Loan Offering at the virtual RBI Asia Trailblazer Awards 2021 & got a commendation for Excellence in Loan Origination, among other things.

RHB Bank Berhad, began its digital journey in 2018 unveiling a SME Online Financing tool that was a first in Malaysia at the time. Targeted at small businesses it offered up to RM1,000,000 Malaysian Ringgit (US$239,000) for tenures between 6-84 months without collateral. Customers can apply online and submit documents digitally in just 10 minutes, using digital bank statements from the last six months and a copy of the applicant director’s Malaysian Identity Card (MyKad).

  • The latter MyKad functionality has since been strengthened and extended from online to a new SME Mobile app. This has just been unveiled for smartphone users to make the digital journey even more accessible, secure with extra video and check procedures, and easy to use.

This ‘customer self-initiated’ SME financing mobile app automates the customer on-boarding process for smartphone users and adds a new dimension of digitalization to the procedure of submitting loan applications. The app enables customers to interact with RHB's Relationship Managers (RMs) via the mobile app and video, while submitting their own applications remotely and securely at their convenience without having to physically meet or visit anyone at a RHB branch – all from the palm of their hand.

The self-serve automation is efficient and enabled by powerful artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and by tapping internal unstructured ‘big data’ sources, alongside the bank’s own internal structured data. This won the bank another commendation in the AI category at the RBI Asia Awards 2021, alongside its Loan Origination nod (see commendations at the end of this story). Other features in the new mobile app & associated MyKad validation include:

  • Facial recognition technology to identify the applicant.
  • Information matching against official registered data sources via the use of application programming interfaces (APIs) in order to quickly and easily smooth the procedure.
  • Real-time processing capabilities.

The above has been crucial in improving digital on-boarding, especially useful during the Covid-19 outbreak. The proposition has been instrumental in driving up the bank’s SME business and revenue. Other key elements in the win were:

  • Original Character Recognition: In January 2021, OCR was introduced to extract and analyze bank statements. It immediately improved productivity in the bank’s Credit Hub by cutting down 95% of manual work. The average monthly turnaround time from submission to approval was cut by 80%.
  • Smart Interview: In April 2021, the bank added this capability. It enables RHB Bank Berhad to perform virtual site inspections and to interview SMEs as part of credit due diligence checks, prior to loan approval being granted. It’s equipped with geo-location to enable the bank to pinpoint the actual location of customers during interviews. The tool eliminates physical site visits, upping efficiency and ease-of-use.

Another imminent new element in an evolving SME ecosystem, empowered by the above technologies and internal integration and advancement work at the bank, is an enhanced electronic Know Your Business (eKYB) procedure. The aim is to make getting business owners’ consent and validation for the Credit Hub digital and as simple as possible. No other bank in Malaysia currently has an eKYB procedure. Approval is eagerly anticipated from Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM – the Central Bank of Malaysia) any day now. Manual checks persist in parallel for the time-being.

These are just a few of the SME digital loan and finance approval overhauls that are underway at RHB Bank Berhad. Many more are imminent. Sor far, the success of the project is obvious from the figures, such as:

  • Rising loans: the small-ticket business lending portfolio has risen from RM68 million (US$16.2m) in 2018 to RM339 million (US$81.1m) by year end 2020.
  • The bank’s target by the end of this year is RM1 billion (US$239.3m).
  • RHB Bank Berhad were also HC: Highly Commended in the Excellence in Loan Origination; Trailblazing Use of AI in FS; and Best App for Customer Experience (CX) categories at the Retail Banker International (RBI): Asia Trailblazer Awards 2021, which were held virtually on 7 October.



The Retail Banker International Asia Trailblazer Awards is an annual platform that celebrates the best in class retail banking institutions and individuals for their innovative service offering and commitment to customer excellence.

If you would like to share your incredible consumer finance journey, then register for the 13th Annual Retail Banker International Asia Trailblazer Awards 2022 and submit your entry!