2022 Winner – Maybank Cross-border mobile remittance tool on Bakong blockchain wins – Retail Banker International Asia Trailblazer Awards



Malayan Banking Berhad (Maybank) won Best Advance in Payments at the RBI APAC Awards 2022 for the cross-border funds transfer service it launched on the back of theNational Bank of Cambodia’s (NBC) Bakong blockchain- based infrastructure.

The real-time payment involves NBC’s Bakong electronic e-wallet and Maybank’s Mae app allowing migrant workers in Malaysia to remit money home to family in Cambodia using only the mobile phone number of the recipient registered on the Bakong wallet. The financial inclusion and empowerment aspect of the project won Maybank a Best Advance in Sustainability Practices trophy at the Awards.

Maybank Malaysia is the first financial institution (FI) to leverage NBC’s Bakong blockchain technology to power fast and low-cost cross-border payments from Malaysia to Cambodia, with no intermediary taking a cut. The aim is to allow Cambodians working in Malaysia to easily send money home to fund their families in a secure manner.

The Cambodian bank is innovating a number of digital tools and projects to help its local community and by using the power of its Malaysian headquartered parent Group it has further endeared itself to users. The Mae app developed at the bank is a powerful tool that has now found another end use.

There were more than 46,000 Cambodian migrant workers in Malaysia at the last count in 2019. Over 70% of the Cambodia population is unbanked due to low financial literacy and inaccessible banking services, especially in rural areas, so the need for the cross-border funds transfer service is evident. With it every Cambodian can now open a Bakong e-wallet instantly with minimal information via their smartphone and receive funds securely from Malaysia without going through a third party.

Competitor solutions either mandate a bank account or users must be present at an agent for cash pickup. Rival transfers, which may cost up to US$30 in fees, can take two days or more to arrive, and even then, it generally only arrives to a central branch or agent, which doesn’t help the rural community.

The Bakong peer-to-peer (P2P) transfer to a mobile number is a much more efficient way of remitting money across the border with enhanced user experience (UX) and minimal expense. This is why Maybank Malaysia was also commended at the RBI APAC Awards 2022 in the Best Remittances Service category. Since the launch of the Bakong-powered service late last year Maybank has transacted over US$2 million, and the number of transactions continues to grow as news of the service spreads. It has already grown three-fold since its inception and further strong growth is expected.

More importantly, from a financial inclusion viewpoint, the initiative has benefited the overall Cambodian population. There are now more than 200,000 users of Bakong wallets and almost six million have benefited from the Bakong ecosystem running off the back of the blockchain infrastructure. This NBC backbone requires innovative banks like Maybank, however, to take advantage of it by innovating new services that can run on its rails.

With the Bakong cross-border funds transfer service, powered by its mobile app, Maybank has helped an entire nation. It has also fulfilled its own mission and goal to ‘humanize financial services’ and be ‘customer obsessed’ in its delivery of real-time services that prioritize UX. That is how it expects to continue to win business in the future.