UNCDF has been present in Malaysia since 2018.
While the country boasts a high penetration of bank accounts and the recent arrival of mobile wallets, UNCDF plans to focus on developing a culture of innovation among financial service providers, accelerating the development of innovative digital financial services (DFS), and increasing DFS usage by low- and middle-income (LMI) people.
One of the initiatives operating out of Malaysia is the Financial Innovation Lab, which is funded by the MetLife Foundation through the i3 Programme. The i3 Programme works in Bangladesh, China, Malaysia, and Vietnam to leverage digital technology and offer significant insights into low- and moderate-income (LMI) people’s needs, aspirations and behaviors in order to build and deliver financial services for the mass market. LMI people lack access to formal financial services and hence, have to struggle to manage their limited resources and cash flows. In 2021, UNCDF co-launched the publication, "Delivering Financial Health Globally: A Collection of Insights, Approaches, and Recommendations."
UNCDF is also working with The Securities Commission Malaysia (SC) to launch the FIKRA Islamic Fintech Accelerator (FIKRA), an innovation programme to develop a vibrant Islamic fintech innovation ecosystem in Malaysia’s Islamic Capital Market (ICM). This programme represents the first accelerator focusing on fintech for the ICM in Malaysia. FIKRA aims to identify and scale relevant and innovative Islamic fintech solutions that can help address any of the programme’s three challenge areas, namely, new ICM offerings, accessibility and social finance integration.