Digital Banks Are a Threat to Alliance Bank in the SME Market

Digital Banks Are a Threat to Alliance Bank in the SME Market

Alliance Bank Malaysia Bhd is projecting strong competition in the small and medium enterprise (SME) space from the new digital banks that recently obtained licenses from Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM), group chief executive officer Joel Kornreich said.

The SME segment is among the key businesses to drive the bank’s financial performance.

“So, (it is) not really (competition) in the consumer space, but in the SME space. Their (digital banks) aim is also to try and serve the smaller SMEs and newly establish SMEs.

“So that is a space where we will be competing in. What we are trying to do is to provide convenience,” he told reporters in a virtual press conference at the bank’s annual general meeting.

Hence, he said the bank will be utilizing various channels — both digitally and physically — to reach out to more SME customers.

‘’For example, we can provide unsecured loans of up to RM500,000 based on statements over a period of six months for these clients,’’ he said.

As for the consumer (loan) segment, Kornreich said the group is “somewhat tightening our criteria in the market” amid the rising inflation and (rising) interest rate.

Kornreich said the bank has not seen loan demand slowing down yet, despite BNM increasing the overnight policy rate (OPR) twice amid mounting inflation.

So far, the industry loan growth is about five percent this year.

He said on an annualized basis, an OPR hike of 25 basis points means about four basis points of benefit for the bank.

‘’That is about RM20 million to RM25 million of benefit because our balance sheet is geared in such a way that it benefits from rises in the OPR. And of course, it gets hit when the OPR goes down.

‘’We have over the past couple of years moderated those effects because we believe that at the end of the day, it is our core business that matters and we do not speculate on the rates going up or down but we can say that there is in fact, an impact when that happens,’’ he noted.

As for the calendar year 2022 financial performance, the bank remains guided by its financial year 2023 (FY2023) projections.

Alliance Bank is aiming to achieve gross loan growth of between six to eight percent, a return on equity of more than 10 percent, and a cost-to-income ratio of over 45 percent in FY2023.

It also targets to achieve RM2.6 billion in the new banking business and will roll out sustainable financing propositions under the Low Carbon Transition Facility for SMEs initiative.

Alliance Bank’s net profit jumped to RM572.82 million in the financial year ended March 31, 2022, from RM358.78 million in the preceding year, largely due to higher revenue from net interest income and a lower provision for expected credit losses.

Revenue for the year was slightly higher at RM1.87 billion compared with RM1.82 billion previously. – Bernama

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