Low business confidence due to external uncertainties

By Prosyscom
In March 6, 2019

KUALA LUMPUR: Malayan Banking Bhd (Maybank) chief executive officer (CEO) Datuk Abdul Farid Alias said the fall in business confidence in the country in the first quarter of 2019 the first time in two years is due to external uncertainties such as the US-China trade war and Brexit.

However, Farid expects the decline in sentiments over the business environment to ease as more positive developments come in. He cited China’s agreement to buy RM3.64 billion worth of palm oil products from Malaysia, after companies from the two countries inked four purchase intent documents on Monday; and the pioneer testing of 5G technologies in Cyberjaya and Putrajaya starting in April this year.

He was commenting on the retreat in business confidence announced by the Statistics Department last Thursday, after the confidence indicator declined to a negative 2.2% in the department’s quarterly business tendency survey.

“For Malaysia, I think what is needed once we’ve gone through the period of correcting the government’s institutional structure, [is to] look at how we want to push the economy forward,” Farid told reporters after the launch of the Maybank Anytime Everyone (MAE) e-wallet yesterday.

About the group’s expectation of housing loans this year, Farid said the current excess supply of physical homes in Malaysia “is no different than that in 1998”, and that initiatives are being put in place to balance the supply, demand and affordability.

Meanwhile, Maybank Community Financial Services Group CEO Datuk John Chong said on an industry basis, the approval rate for primary and secondary transactions stood at about 70%, while Maybank’s approval rate surpassed that at 78%.

On the newly launched MAE, the group hopes to attract 100,000 new accounts this year, according to Maybank Virtual Banking and Payments executive vice-president and head Kalyani Nair. Eventually, the group hopes its 4.5 million Maybank2u (M2u) e-banking platform users will become MAE e-wallet users, Farid added.

On whether the bank is working with other banks and e-wallet operators to set up a common payments system, Kalyani said the group is already part of the Bank Negara Malaysia-led Payments Network Malaysia Sdn Bhd, and that Maybank is also part of the DuitNow fund transfer system.

Chong said the group saw 5.85 billion transactions on M2u in 2018, with 3.77 billion transactions via its website, and 2.08 billion via its mobile platform.

“M2u monetary transactions grew at 43%, while mobile transactions overtook the web, growing much faster at 173% year-on-year,” said Chong.

Kalyani added that 98% of the group’s total transactions inclusive of non-digital ones came from its digital and self-service segment, with the latter comprising automated teller and deposit machines at its branches.

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