Press release

UNCDF partners with GHL to boost financial health in Malaysia

  • 24 August 2020
  • 4 minutes read
Danny Leong and team at a UNCDF partnership announcement.

Danny Leong and team at a UNCDF partnership announcement.

The United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) today announced a new partnership with GHL Systems Berhad (GHL) through the i3 Program, which is funded by MetLife Foundation, to focus on designing affordable financial solutions for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in Malaysia.

“Together with the technical know-how and experience of UNCDF, we are excited to extend a broad range of financial products and services to the MSMEs segment,” said GHL CEO Danny Leong. “This collaboration comes at the right time as the livelihoods of MSMEs have been severely affected by the devastating economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Through this partnership, GHL will go beyond payments and introduce a range of financial services—such as credit, insurance and savings—to help MSMEs protect and grow their businesses. While improving the financial health of these MSMEs, these financial services will also aim to successfully maximize their competitiveness and profitability.

“COVID-19 has thrust us into a situation where a large number of low-income individuals and small business owners are facing serious financial health problems. Co-operation between key players in supporting these individuals and small businesses is critical. We are pleased that through MetLife Foundation we are able to support UNCDF’s work in bringing together all the leading players in Malaysia, including Bank Negara Malaysia, the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation and GHL, to support these small business owners as they seek to recover from this pandemic,” said Ramzi Toubassy, CEO of AmMetLife Insurance Berhad.

“As we work towards building resilient economies post-COVID, MSMEs will play a crucial role by way of maintaining and generating jobs as well as driving growth,” said Jaspreet Singh, UNCDF Global Innovation Manager. “Financial health is an important lens as we think of re-building the economy. Once that process begins, investing in the resilience of MSMEs should be at the core of our efforts and the partnership, which GHL aims to do just that.”

MDEC’s Vice President of Fintech & Islamic Digital Economy, Norhizam Kadir sees the collaboration between MDEC, UNCDF, Metlife Foundation and GHL as the kind of impactful private-public partnership that MDEC has always strived for, especially in order to foster better financial inclusion.

“It also reaffirms MDEC’s aim in connecting and enabling the ecosystem to be an inclusive digital economy by driving the adoption of the 3As—financial products that are ‘Alternative, Accessible & Affordable’—via innovative digital platforms to the unbanked and underserved population in Malaysia,” said Kadir. “MDEC is proud to be part of this collaboration between GHL and the i3 Program that will enable more digitally-powered businesses and further promote the financial health of SMEs of this nation.”

Small businesses play a crucial role in the Malaysian economy. More than 98% of all business establishments in Malaysia are SMEs and they contribute to more than 38% of the country’s GDP while employing a large number of low-income Malaysians. The pandemic has severely affected the SME sector and the millions of low- to moderate-income people employed by SMEs.

About GHL Group

As ASEAN’s leading payment solutions provider, GHL’s reach spans across 7 countries: Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, Singapore and Australia – stretching over a vast footprint of 395,000 payment touchpoints across the region. GHL prides itself as a one stop provider for both offline and online e-payment solutions, with over 26 years of expertise. GHL is the leading payment acquirer in ASEAN for over 100 global and regional payment schemes and channels, processing over RM1.5 billion payment transactions per month.

For more information, visit

About UNCDF and Financial Innovation Lab

The United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) makes public and private finance work for the poor. With its capital mandate and instruments, UNCDF offers “last mile” finance models that unlock public and private resources, especially at the domestic level, to reduce poverty and support local economic development.

The Financial Innovation Lab (FinLab) runs innovation challenges to find and support solutions that help improve the financial health of the low-to-moderate income people in Malaysia and China. It is funded by the MetLife Foundation through the i3 Program.

To learn more about FinLab, visit

About Innovate, Implement, Impact (i3) Program

The i3 Program works in Bangladesh, China, Malaysia and Vietnam to leverage digital technology and uncover deep insights into low- and moderate-income (LMI) people’s needs, aspirations and behaviours in order to build and deliver financial services for the mass market. LMI people have limited options that could drive usage of formal financial services and so struggle to manage their limited resources and cash flows. The program is funded by the MetLife Foundation and implemented by MicroSave and UNCDF.

About MetLife Foundation

At MetLife Foundation, we are committed to expanding opportunities for low- and moderate-income people around the world. We partner with nonprofit organizations and social enterprises to create financial health solutions and build stronger communities, while engaging MetLife employee volunteers to help drive impact. MetLife Foundation was established in 1976 to continue MetLife’s long tradition of corporate contributions and community involvement. From its founding through the end of 2019, MetLife Foundation provided more than $860 million in grants and $85 million in program-related investments to make a positive impact in the communities where MetLife operates. Our financial health work has reached more than 13.4 million low- and moderate-income individuals in 42 countries.

To learn more about MetLife Foundation, visit

About AmMetLife Insurance Berhad (AmMetLife)

AmMetLife is a strategic partnership between AMMB Holdings Berhad (AmBank Group) and MetLife International Holdings LLC (MetLife). AmMetLife offers a comprehensive range of life assurance and wealth protection solutions distributed through a combination of over 200 AmBank and AmMetLife branded branch offices, in addition to the strength of its authorised life insurance agents nationwide. The strategic partnership combines the international expertise and financial strength of MetLife with the local strength and reach of AmBank Group to create a customer-centric and modern life assurance solutions provider in Malaysia

About MDEC

Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) is a government agency under the purview of the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia Malaysia entrusted to lead Malaysia’s digital economy forward. Incorporated in 1996 to oversee the development of the MSC Malaysia initiative, MDEC’s primary mandate today is to accelerate the growth of digitally-skilled Malaysians, digitally-powered businesses and digital investments in Malaysia. MDEC is focused on creating inclusive, high-quality growth through the nationwide digitalisation initiatives that are in line with the Government’s Shared Prosperity Vision 2030 and firmly establishing Malaysia as the Heart of Digital ASEAN.

MDEC has also launched a campaign to raise awareness and mitigate against the spread of the COVID-19 threat with a series of short videos across its social media channels that encourage a digital approach to combat COVID-19.

You may follow this campaign through the following hashtags:

#LetsBuildTogether #DigitalMalaysiaForward #DigitalVsCovid

For more information and updates, please visit or follow us on:
Twitter: @mymdec

This collaboration comes at the right time as the livelihoods of MSMEs have been severely affected by the devastating economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

— Danny Leong, Chief Executive Officer GHL Systems Berhad

As we work towards building resilient economies post-COVID, MSMEs will play a crucial role by way of maintaining and generating jobs as well as driving growth.

— Jaspreet Singh, Global Lead - Financial Health and Innovation


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Natasha Scripture

Senior Communications and PR Advisor


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