2020 Winner: Virtual card and QR pay functions added to a new e-wallet win recognition for trailblazing bank across multiple categories – Retail Banker International Asia Trailblazer Awards


Kalyani Nair, Maybank

Asia Trailblazer of the Year (Individual) 2020

MAE is a first-of-its-kind e-wallet from Maybank in Malaysia that allows new or existing customers to open an account via their smartphones within 5 minutes and instantly transact, without needing to visit a branch. It is bundled with an instant Visa virtual debit card, activated with valid ID and offering online e-commerce and contactless capabilities when linked to MaybankPay or SamsungPay. The additional Maybank QRPay functionality allows retail bank customers to pay cashlessly at over 300,000 merchants nationwide.

For all of these reasons Maybank won at the RBI: Asia Trailblazer Awards 2020 in the following four highlighted categories:

Best Mobile Wallet Initiative; • Best Debit Card Initiative; • Best Payment Innovation; and for their culminative efforts, and an internet banking overhaul, Maybank was also recognised as the • Best Retail Bank: Malaysia. It also won for an Advertising Campaign and got Trailblazer trophies for an Institution and Individual (Ms Kalyani Nair) – these are covered at the end of the story where highlighted. In addition, its Cambodian bank won in two categories, CSR and retail banking: Cambodia, which are again covered at the end of the story. The bank therefore won 9 trophies in total.

The Maybank2u Reimagine project has overhauled Malaysia’s number one internet banking service, with over 10.69 million registered users and a 50% market share of internet bank transactions, to provide Malaysian retail bank customers with a better, simpler and more personalised user experience (UX) and interface (UI). The redesign gives a more seamless experience across all devices be it a desktop, tablet or smartphone. The MyM2U Challenge offered the chance to win prizes via games designed to reward online or mobile transactions.

The M2U Digital Financial Planner was also a significant additional tool for Malaysian retail bank customers that won Maybank recognition. It has a goal savings plan, spending tracker and insurance dashboard that lets customers set and keep up-to-date with their financial goals via the revamped Maybank2u internet banking website.

The MAE mobile e-wallet was unveiled in Malaysia on 5 March 2019. It aims to provide access to wider banking services in an ecosystem that is seamless and rewarding for the users. It makes it possible to do:

  • instant transfers,
  • access ATM services,
  • do bill payments,
  • & undertake prepaid reloads.

Customers can also transfer funds from another bank account to MAE via the regular funds transfer service. The pre-existing Maybank App dashboard creates a simplified account viewing experience, demarcating the regular savings account from the MAE e-wallet.

MAE can then be used for daily expenditures like mobile top-ups, purchasing movie & flight tickets, paying via QRPay, sending & requesting money, as well as performing contactless payments, while ‘mundane’ banking facilities can be reflected in the main account, such as salaries, direct debit bill payments, car and mortgage loans. The e-wallet is for on the move transactions, but it is integrated into the wider offering, ensuring control and visibility on expenditure for the users.

The extra functionality provided by the linked virtual Visa debit card allows users to easily pay for their shopping on electronic e-commerce apps and websites as soon as an account is opened. Furthermore, users can also add their virtual Visa debit card to MaybankPay or Samsung Pay to pay for their retail purchases at PayWave-supporting contactless terminals, or use the QRPay function to pay cashlessly at over 300,000 merchants throughout Malaysia. MAE is an integrated and overlapping service designed for smartphone totting 21st century customers.

Maybank added two mini-games within the Maybank App to coincide with the launch of the MAE mobile e-wallet, and further reinforce its gamification initiatives, by unveiling:

Money MAE-Hem: this is a game designed especially for MAE customers. Users win money by collecting as many coins as possible, and can gain additional chances to play when their friends also sign-up for MAE using their unique invite code. This reward and acquisition drive has been backed up by a social media campaign.

Scan and Win: on the other end is a geo-campaign that invites users to scan a MAE QR code, situated in prominent locations around the country, and be in the running to win cash.

To-date over 1,000,000 sign-ups for MAE have been registered seven months after the 2019 launch, and over 90% of users actively engage with it every month. This proves that the market is indeed ready for an e-wallet with an instant virtual Visa card and the added convenience of banking features.

Trailblazing bank and people
All of these initiatives went into making Maybank an • Asia Trailblazer of the Year 2020 (Institution) recognising its efforts to put customer experience, innovation and connected services at the centre of everything it does. It is important to align technology with processes and people, however, so the bank’s leader in these innovative sectors Ms. Kalyani Nair, SEVP and Group Head of Virtual Banking & Payments (VBP) at Maybank, has been recognised as the Asia Trailblazer of the Year 2019 (Individual).

A senior banker with 20 years experience in the financial services (FS) industry, Ms. Kalyani Nair has been with Maybank Group for over four years now. Under her leadership its Digital Channels have experienced:

  • 96% growth in monetary transactions
  • 78% growth in active users
  • 233% growth in mobile transactions
  • & the highest engagement level among mobile banking apps in Malaysia (31.7 sessions/month per user).

These impressive figures are the result of Nair’s obsession with digital innovation, and insistence on extensively engaging our customers when designing, developing and testing new services before launching them into the market, in-line with Maybank’s tagline of ‘Humanising Financial Services’.

Ad campaign in Singapore
Maybank’s tagline of ‘Humanising FS’ and adherence to this motto led its Singapore unit to launch the #InspireGoodSG hashtag, and associated marketing drive, to encourage people to undertake acts of goodness. Participants get a reward for it that they can keep or donate to a charity, and then share their stories via social media and the dedicated inspiregood.sg website. This won the Singaporean bank the • Best Advertising Campaign at the virtual Retail Banker International (RBI): Asia Trailblazer Awards 2020, as it was considered to be a good way to bring its tagline to life and promote the bank’s values and brand.

The mechanics of the campaign are simple. A person who has done a good deed got an #InspireGoodSG card that they can use to redeem a small monetary reward. Participants can keep or donate the money to one of the bank’s charity partners. Maybank encouraged the 2,687 participants so far to share their stories on the website and social media using the hashtag, so that their deeds inspired others. Each participant passed the card on to another person who has done good, thereby creating a ‘chain of goodness’. The #InspireGoodSG social initiative by Maybank Singapore:

  • Reached 241,829 people on social media, within 10 weeks.
  • Attained a high nominal PR value of S$197,340.
  • Garnered 2,039,126 video impressions.
  • 212,329 completed video views, with media efficiency 3x what would otherwise have been achieved.
  • Raised funds for our charity partners.
  • Achieved an average #InspireGoodSG card velocity of 2.8 (i.e. each participant passed it on to almost three other people).

Cambodian wins
Maybank Cambodia was also recognised at the RBI Asia Awards for a successful pivot towards the retail small-to-medium sized enterprise (SME) space in its banking activities, which led to it registering double-digit year-on-year (YOY) growth from 2018 onwards. Last year, the retail SME area contributed 66.2% and 65.1% of the bank’s total loans and deposits respectively, proving its pivot away from just doing ordinary retail bank services had been successful. Its efforts won it the • Best Retail Bank: Cambodia trophy, allied to the many other initiatives outlined in its entry.

Maybank Cambodia’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme also gained recognition as the • Best CSR Initiative. It empowers employee volunteerism to help vulnerable groups such as the poor, women and children via education initiatives, community empowerment acts, arts and culture projects, environmental diversity, healthy living drives, and disaster relief. It particularly promotes financial literacy and financial inclusion, in-line with the bank’s ‘Humanising FS’ tagline. The four key CSR initiatives that were noteworthy were:

Restore the Gift of Sight (1st Year): A collaboration between Maybank Cambodia and Khmer Sight Foundation, this focuses on the mission of eliminating avoidable blindness in Cambodia via eye screening and surgery for the underprivileged. In its first year of implementation more than 1,700 people benefitted.

Maybank CashVille Kidz Financial Literacy Programme (3rd Year): An on-going effort to teach school students the importance of money and good spending and savings habits, via an animated series. Now in its third year of implementation, the programme has been expanded to four new provinces including Battambang, Siem Reap, Kompong Cham and Sihanouk, reaching out to more than 10,000 students.

Maybank Women Eco-Weavers Programme (4th Year): As recognised by the ASEAN Secretariat, the Maybank Women Eco-Weavers programme was initiated to promote commonalities across the region and to help bring economic independence to women weavers by teaching them how to build an income using their sustainable skills in traditional woven textiles.

The programme is steadily growing, bringing positive results for weavers and farmers in Cambodia. In August 2019, for example, it continued to help the women in Takeo by expanding the Silk Weaving Centre there, so it could accommodate an additional 30 women weavers for the training project it hosts. Last summer, a temporary Maybank Silk Weaving Training centre was also set up at Preah Dak commune, Banteay Srei District, to benefit women in Siem Reap province. This is now being turned into a permanent Silk Weaving Training Centre.

Maybank Child Sponsorship Programme (Phase 6): This on-going project sponsors and engages underprivileged students in collaboration with the People Improvement Organisation (PIO). Many of the participants previously lived in the city dumpsites and slum areas of Phnom Penh with their families. The bank sponsored and mentored 50 students last year to educate them and provide a path out of poverty. PIO-run eye care sessions for students and their parents are also available.

Maybank also got 5 highly commended nods for Best App for Customer Experience, Best Digital Banking Initiative, Excellence in Client On-Boarding, Excellence in Mobile Banking and Excellence in Service Innovation.


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!