2020 Winner: RHB Bank Berhad commended for new SME online financing solution – Retail Banker International Asia Trailblazer Awards


RHB Bank Berhad in Malaysia has achieved Highly commended (HC) status in the Excellence in SME Banking category at the virtual RBI Asia Trailblazer Awards 2020 thanks to its SME Online Financing solution, which was the first digital small-to-medium sized enterprise (SME) lending portal in 2018 and has continued to evolve ever since with many upgrades detailed here.

The online solution provides financing of up to MYR1 million (US$241,000) for tenures between six and 84 months to SMEs, with no collateral needed. More importantly it’s simple and quick to use.

Customers apply online and submit supporting documents digitally, all within 10 minutes. Only two documents are needed: (i) a digital copy of the applicant directors’ Malaysian Identity Card (MYKAD) and (ii) bank statements from the past 6 months. At launch, it took two days for a conditional approval and a further three days to get the funds, with updates provided throughout.

Enhancements have already happened since launch to speed up these turnaround times, which are now less than two days for approval, and many new features are being added all the time. Last year, an iSmart tool to help Relationship Managers (RMs) better manage and track leads via Salesforce was unveiled and it offers auto-sign capabilities to further speed processes along, negating the need for any site or branch visits to verify documentation. All such paperwork is now auto-generated anyway.

As of October 2019, 60% of all SME loan applications originated via SME Online Financing. Loan submissions grew by 800% compared to a low 2018 launch base and asset sizes grew by more than 1,000% last year, making the solution a leader in the Malaysian SME digital lending area it pioneered.

The latest 2020 planned upgrades include biometric identification; enhanced intelligent document and remote due dilligence processing; a mobile app for RMs and customers; and improved data-driven fraud detection using artifical intelligence (AI). There will also be an application programming interface (API) link that thrird-party channel partners can access to originate loans. The improvements this year will allow the bank to offer:

  • Instant approval-in-principle (AIP) to customers.
  • Enhance sales and distribution channels to drive digital loan application volume via the customer-facing mobile app, channel partner integration via the API link, etc.
  • Automate manual loan processing and integrate information flows to sustain significant increases in sales volume.
  • Technology-assisted credit due diligence will help maintain adequate levels of risk management.
The Excellence in SME Banking category at the the Retail Banker International (RBI): Asia Trailblazer Awards 2020 was very popular attracting a lot of entries and consequently another Highly Commended (HC) recognition for Hong Leong Bank Berhad Malaysia was given and for Kasikornbank in Thailand. The winner was Affin Bank Berhad.


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!