Malaysia's AirAsia applies for digital banking license

KUALA LUMPUR, July 1 (Reuters) - Malaysian budget airline AirAsia Group Bhd said on Thursday its fintech unit has bid for a digital banking license in the country as part of a consortium.

BigPay, the unit, has partnered with Malaysian Industrial Development Finance Berhad - a unit of the country’s largest asset manager Permodalan Nasional Bhd - and private equity firm Ikhlas Capital.

Singapore-based Ikhlas was founded by Nazir Razak, the former chairman of CIMB Group Holdings.

The consortium also includes a foreign conglomerate with fintech expertise, AirAsia said in a statement.

Citing sources, Reuters reported earlier on Thursday that AirAsia and its partners were among the bidders for up to five digital banking licences that the Malaysian central bank has said it will issue by early 2022.

Other bidders include a joint venture between ride-hailing-to-fintech group Grab and Singtel, telecoms operator Axiata and a consortium backed by Chinese tech firm Tencent. (Reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi; Editing by Martin Petty)