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Tuesday December 28, 2010

Foreign banks join MEPS

By SHARIDAN M. ALI
sharidan@thestar.com.my


They are HSBC, OCBC, UOB, Standard Chartered and Citibank

PETALING JAYA: Five major foreign banks in Malaysia have joined the Malaysian Electronic Payment System (MEPS) automated teller machine (ATM) network, which until recently had been the domain of local banks.

Effective next year, HSBC Bank Malaysia Bhd, OCBC Bank (M) Bhd, United Overseas Bank (M) Bhd (UOB), Standard Chartered Bank Malaysia Bhd (StanChart) and Citibank Bhd will form part of the MEPs family, enabling customers to use the ATM facilities on a wider scale.

StanChart and Citibank had earlier announced their decisions last week.

The agreement links the banks to the MEPS service which provides interbank cash withdrawals and balance enquiries at more than 10,000 ATMs nationwide.

However, the banks will launch the service individually over time as soon as their respective systems are fully operational. Currently, there are 14 foreign banks in Malaysia.

This development is in line with recommendations in the Financial Sector Masterplan to allow incumbent foreign banks to set up a shared ATM network and introduce new foreign competition.

Given the intensifying degree of global competition and greater assimilation into the global arena, the banking sector has to be prepared for greater liberalisation.

HSBC general manager (personal financial services) Lim Eng Seong said through this partnership, the bank hoped to expand its reach to a larger and more diverse market segment.

“We aim to raise the bar in customer experience. Thanks to Bank Negara's various liberalisation initiatives, customers of locally incorporated foreign banks now have a wider access to their banking needs,” he said in the joint statement yesterday.

OCBC head of consumer financial services Charles Sik said the combined customer base of the four banks would expand the national electronic payments solutions service in Malaysia to be one of the most convenient in this part of the world.

UOB senior vice-president and senior head of personal financial services Tay Han Chong said there was now another reason for Malaysians to develop their banking relationships with locally incorporated foreign banks.

MEPS group managing director Mohd Suhail Amar Suresh told StarBiz that the entry of five foreign banks would increase the total number of MEPS ATM outlets to about 11,000 from 10,253 as at November.

There are now 16 member banks in the network.

“In addition to convenient access to ATMs nationwide, banks with MEPS have the option of offering funds transfer and mobile prepaid top-ups, as well as interbank cash withdrawals and balance enquiry for domestic and cross-border services.

“These services have enabled member banks to improve and enhance operational efficiency and service delivery by offering multi-channel banking to their customers,” he said.

Suhail added that MEPS had formed partnerships with switching networks in Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand and China for the provision of bilateral financial payment and credit transfer services and is set to expand it further to other regional networks.

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