Closing the Credit Gap for Small Businesses

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Today, Boost is a full-spectrum fintech player in Southeast Asia with five different entities, namely Boost Life, Boost Biz, Boost Credit, Boost Connect and Boost Indonesia. — Photo Bernama

GEORGE TOWN: What started as an e-wallet company providing alternative methods for making digital payments in 2017, Boost has now grown into a full-spectrum regional fintech player that caters to unserved and underserved segments, in particular micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).

Sheyantha Abeykoon, Boost Group CEO, said: “Since beginning our journey five years ago pioneering QR code payments on e-wallets and encouraging Malaysians to go cashless, we have expanded our core business by covering micro-finance, micro-insurance, cross-border content services and merchant solutions that facilitate the process of business digitization. We developed these businesses separately over the past four years and brought them together under one umbrella about a year and a half ago.

“Today, Boost is a full-spectrum fintech player in Southeast Asia with five different entities, namely Boost Life, Boost Biz, Boost Credit, Boost Connect and Boost Indonesia, making us one of the few fintech companies to offer consumer payment solutions, merchant services, small business loans and we also have remittance services for businesses,” he said in an interview with Bernama.

With Bank Negara Malaysia naming the Boost Consortium and RHB Banking Group as one of the five beneficiaries of the digital banking licenses, Sheyantha said it would certainly bring the company closer to its greatest ambition in the banking segment.

Sheyantha said Boost has built deep relationships with MSMEs based on trust, where Boost has been able to provide them with alternative financing through their transaction data with Boost. This data-driven approach is used to pre-assess the finances of these businesses and grant them loan facility without requiring a bank statement.

“We have been able to help many merchants, especially those who are not eligible for bank financing. We have disbursed nearly RM1 billion in loans over the past four years and much of this has been done in the past 24 months.

“Over 40% of these merchants are new to credit, meaning they’ve never taken out a loan before we made them an offer. Many people talk about financial inclusion, but these MSMEs are always left out,” he said.

He is confident that Boost can help these merchants stay afloat, especially during the pandemic, as the company’s non-performing loan has remained low at 2-3% currently.

Regarding loan size per trader, he said the average ticket size was around RM20,000, but Boost could be as small as needed.

“We have already given loans as low as RM1,000. We are able to do this because we are a digital platform,” he said.

Boost Biz CEO Eric Chong said the Covid-19 pandemic has significantly affected how businesses operate and, more importantly, accelerated the world’s digital transformation.

“During the pandemic, we launched a feature called Boost Payment Link, which allows merchants to collect a specific payment amount from the customer by sharing a link which can be sent via SMS or Whatsapp.

“We have also worked with the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) to help merchants transition from offline to online. are traders from Penang.

“We also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Majlis Bandaraya Seberang Perai (MBSP) in September 2021 so that traders do not have to queue to pay for their stall rentals, parking lots and even make payments easily. to MBSP for tax assessment through our platform,” he said.

He said Boost Biz is progressing well with nearly 500,000 merchant touchpoints nationwide, including more than 35,000 in Penang.

Chong said the company is also working with big partners like 62-year-old Penang-based retailer Sunshine Wholesale Mart Sdn Bhd, where in addition to offering payment solutions to shoppers in their stores, it is also streamlining allowances. Sunshine staff.

Sunshine CEO Cynthia Hwang said her partnership with Boost has enabled the company to pay staff a monthly cost of living adjustment (COLA) of RM250 to be spent at all Sunshine outlets via the Boost app. Previously, this was done manually through physical vouchers which required additional paperwork for the Human Resources (HR) department.

“This translates into a seamless experience for our HR department,” she added.

Meanwhile, the famous and oldest nasi kandar restaurant in the country Hameediyah has also embraced digitalization and is seeing its benefits by accepting Boost.

Its chief operating officer, Muhammad Riyaaz Syed Ibrahim, said he did extensive research into the trend of digitalization once it became a phenomenon, as well as how to ensure the 115-year-old restaurant continues to grow.

“I approached senior management about this, saying we cannot continue with the old cash payment methods. That’s when the decision to partner with Boost was made.

“Boost has helped our business a lot, especially since many of our customers now prefer to go cashless,” he added. — Bernama






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