Malaysians don’t just compare, they want to buy financial products online: Report

  • Financial institutions stymied by lack of expertise and tools
  • Built to be stable and secure, not to be risk-takers
Malaysians don’t just compare, they want to buy financial products online: Report

GET ready for the next level: A joint report on Malaysia’s financial search trends by Google Malaysia and financial technology (fintech) startup Jirnexu Sdn Bhd has found that consumers are moving from merely comparing financial products online towards actually buying financial products online.
“The demand is there – people want to transact. If you are a product or service provider, you better be ready,” said Jirnexu founder Hann Liew (pic above).
According to the report – based on the Google Consumer Barometer and internal data from both companies, amongst other sources – 67% of Malaysians accessed the Internet with their mobile phones, and mobile searches for financial products grew by 68% in 2015 over the previous year.
The report also revealed that 12% of Malaysians used financial products price comparison websites in 2015: Higher than Thailand (11% of the population), Taiwan (9%), South Korea (8%) and Indonesia (1%).
Credit cards were the most searched for financial product by Malaysians online. Last year, there was a 30% increase in searches using ‘credit card’ as keywords. CIMB, Maybank, UOB and HSBC credit cards were the most popular search items among Malaysians in 2015.
There was a 30% growth in insurance-related searches from 2013, and the most-searched category was ‘auto insurance,’ followed by ‘takaful’ or Islamic insurance.

READ ALSO: Merdeka: For Malaysians, it’s about getting the best deals
Liew said that what interested him most from the study was that more and more customers were communicating with the banks via digital channels: 14 of the 21 monthly interactions were done via digital channels.
“We also found out that digital customers interacted 12 times more with banks than non-digital customers,” he told Digital News Asia (DNA) in Kuala Lumpur recently.
“We may think that with face-to-face interactions, the relationship would be greater, but this is not the case – there’s more interaction happening in the digital space,” he added (click infographic below to view in full).

Malaysians don’t just compare, they want to buy financial products online: Report

Connecting the dots
While most financial services providers the importance of having a digital strategy, many of them face challenges when it comes to acquiring digital customers, according to Liew.
“First is the challenge of getting the right expertise. You need to have expertise in digital acquisition, engagement and branding,” he said.
The second challenge is that banks and insurance companies are generally built to be secure and stable, and are thus not geared to be risk-takers.
“There is a reason banking systems are what they are. They are built for stability and security rather than innovation or doing crazy things on digital,” said Liew.
“That’s rightly so, because we trust banks and insurers with our money; we rely on them to be the custodians of our deposits, credit portfolios, and others.
“However, what they need to realise is that they can innovate beyond their core banking system,” he added.
Not surprisingly, Liew suggested that one way these companies can gear themselves for digital acquisition is to engage with technology startups like Jirnexu.
“You need to marry the two mindsets together: The need to be stable and secure, as well as the need to be agile and nimble in the digital age,” he declared.
Jirnexu, formerly known as Saving Plus, currently has two main businesses: Its financial comparison websites in Malaysia and KreditGoGo in Indonesia; and its XpressApply service.
XpressApply is a digital application workflow management solution and customer relationship management platform for financial services institutions.
“Essentially, it is about giving banks and insurance companies the tools to acquire digital customers that they don’t have right now,” said Liew.
He said the response to XpressApply has been “encouraging” and believes that demand will continue to grow.
He said that Jirnexu can help banks and insurers to aggregate consumers, let consumers compare products, and then deliver the right products to them. But while these companies acknowledge that this would be a great service, they also say they don’t have a way to market it effectively.
“Most of them don’t have the technology or processes to convert interested consumers into actual customers,” he claimed.
This is where XpressApply comes in, by helping financial services providers design a solution and create a process so that this can all be done fully online without much human intervention, he declared.
“For us, it is about giving value – and the real value is not merely comparing, it is about allowing consumers to make that transaction,” said Liew.
Related Stories:
Fintech startup Saving Plus rebrands to Jirnexu, raises US$3 mil Series A and announce March merger
After going regional, CompareAsia's focus back on Malaysia
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