BigPay, the fintech unit of Malaysian airline AirAsia, has closed a $100m funding round led by South Korean conglomerate SK Group.

This marks the first time that a unit within airasia Digital has obtained funding of this size.

The backing comes shortly after BigPay applied for a digital banking licence.

BigPay CEO and co-founder Salim Dhanani said that the infusion will help the firm speed up its product development and scale business.

Dhanani stated: “Our mission is to become a leading challenger bank across Southeast Asia. We’ve established ourselves in Malaysia as one of the leading providers of digital banking services, and we want to expand our product sets, along with growing the model to new markets.

“Thailand is next, but we’ll be launching key products before that – with fully digital personal loans, transactional lending and an offering for mSMEs.”

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SK Malaysia chief representative Jung Kyu Kim said: “We are happy to be joining forces with BigPay as we’ve had a keen interest in fintech and digital banking for a long time.

“SK Group will be able to make a significant contribution to BigPay in both technical and consumer service aspects given our experience and resources.”

BigPay has a reach in Malaysia and Singapore. Set up in 2017, the firm offers a prepaid debit card that can be used anywhere Visa or Mastercard are accepted.

The firm enables local and international money transfers, as well as provides micro-insurance, bill payments and a budgeting tool.

Last year in September, BigPay announced plans to expand its e-wallet services in Singapore.

The expansion plan involved launch of BigPay’s mobile money app and Visa debit card for its users in Singapore.