Date: Thursday 24-Apr-14

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Invest in Malaysia

Banking, Finance and Exchange Administration


The Malaysian financial system comprises of a diversified range of institutions to serve the more varied and complex needs of the domestic economy. The financial system consists of the conventional financial system and the Islamic financial system which co-exists and operates in parallel.

1.1 The Central Bank

Bank Negara Malaysia (the Bank), the Central Bank of Malaysia, is at the apex of the monetary and financial structure of the country. The principal objective of the Bank is to promote monetary stability and financial stability conducive to the sustainable growth of the Malaysian economy. Its primary functions as set out in the newly enacted Central Bank of Malaysia Act 2009 are to:

  • formulate and conduct monetary policy in Malaysia;
  • issue currency in Malaysia;
  • regulate and supervise financial institutions which are subject to the laws enforced by the Bank;
  • provide oversight over money and foreign exchange markets;
  • exercise oversight over payment systems;
  • promote a sound, progressive and inclusive financial system;
  • hold and manage the foreign reserves of Malaysia;
  • promote an exchange rate regime consistent with the fundamentals of the economy; and
  • act as financial adviser, banker and financial agent of the Government.

To achieve its mandates, the Bank is vested with powers under various laws to regulate and supervise the banking institutions and other non-bank financial intermediaries. The Bank also administers the country’s foreign exchange regulations.

1.2 Financial Institutions

The following table provides an overview of the number of financial institutions under the purview of Bank Negara Malaysia as at end-February 2012:



Malaysian-Controlled Institution

Foreign- Controlled Institution

Commercial Banks




Islamic Banks




International Islamic Banks




Investment Banks








Takaful Operators (Islamic Insurers)




International Takaful Operators








Retakaful Operators (Islamic Reinsurers)




Development Financial Institutions




The banking system, comprising commercial banks, investment banks, and Islamic banks, is the primary mobiliser of funds and the main source of financing which supports economic activities in Malaysia. Banking institutions, operate through a network of more than 2,000 branches across the country. There are also 14 representative offices of foreign banks in Malaysia which do not conduct banking business but undertake research, liaison services and exchange of information. Six Malaysian banking groups have presence in 19 countries through branches, representative offices, subsidiaries, equity participation and joint ventures.

The non-bank financial institutions, namely development financial institutions, insurance companies and takaful operators, complement the banking institutions in mobilising savings and meeting the financial needs of the economy. The insurance and reinsurance companies conduct life and general insurance business and similarly takaful and retakaful operators engage in the general and family takaful business. The insurance companies and takaful operators which operate through a network of more than 800 offices and 100,000 registered agents nationwide provide avenues for risk management and financial planning solutions for businesses and individuals.

1.2.1 Islamic Financial Industry

Islamic finance in Malaysia continues to demonstrate dynamic growth with a comprehensive Islamic financial system that is supported by robust regulatory, legal and Shariah governance frameworks, the many players as well as the requisite talent and expertise.

The Islamic financial system comprises four main components, namely Islamic banking, takaful and retakaful, Islamic interbank money market and Islamic capital market. The expansion of Islamic finance is rigorously driven by the current 56 institutions offering Islamic financial services. As at December 2011, Malaysia’s total Islamic banking assets has reached RM334.9 billion with a market share of 22.4% and recorded an average annual growth rate of 16.07% for the period 2002 to 2011. For the takaful industry, total assets has reached RM17 billion with a market share of 8.89% and an average annual growth rate of 20.1%. The Malaysian capital market has also recorded total outstanding sukuk amounting to RM200 billion as at September 2011, surpassing the outstanding conventional bond with 58% of market share.

To date, there are more than 100 Islamic banking products and services available in the industry. Innovative products and financial instruments that are aligned with the global Shariah principles have been issued in the global market. An example is the multi-currency sukuk, with issuances denominated in the US Dollar, Singapore Dollar and Renmimbi that have attracted international investors. Malaysia has evolved to become a multi-currency sukuk market, where there is increasing issuances made in Malaysia, thereby positioning Malaysia as the second largest market in terms of USD- denominated sukuk in the world, accounting for 14.5% market share.

1.2.2 Development Financial Institutions

The Development Financial Institutions (DFIs) in Malaysia are specialised financial institutions established by the Government with a specific mandate to develop and promote key sectors that are considered of strategic importance to the overall socio-economic development objectives of the country. These strategic sectors include the agricultural, SMEs, infrastructure, maritime and export-oriented sectors, as well as capital-intensive and high-technology industries.

As specialised institutions, DFIs provide a range of specialised financial products and services to suit the specific needs of the targeted strategic sectors. Ancillary services in the form of consultation and advisory services are also provided by DFIs to nurture and develop the identified sectors. DFIs therefore complement the banking institutions and act as a strategic conduit to bridge the gaps in the supply of financial products and services to the identified strategic areas for the purpose of long-term economic development.

In 2002 the Development Financial Institutions Act 2002 (the DFIA) was enacted to promote the financial and operational soundness of the DFIs through sustainable practices and the requisite regulatory and supervisory frameowork, and that the institutions perform their mandated roles prudently, efficiently and effectively. With the enactment of the DFIA, the Bank was appointed as the central regulatory and supervisory body for DFIs. As part of the regulatory and supervisory framework, the Bank monitors the activities and financial performance of the DFIs to ensure that they perform their mandated roles in a prudent manner and are supported by strong corporate governance and best practices.

As of December 2011, six DFIs have been designated as prescribed institutions under subsection 2(1) of the DFIA: Bank Perusahaan Kecil dan Sederhana or SME Bank, which provides financing and advisory services to small and medium sized enterprises involved in manufacturing, services and construction sectors; Bank Pembangunan Malaysia Berhad, which provides medium- and long-term financing for infrastructure projects, maritime, capital-intensive and high-technology industries in the manufacturing sector and other selected sectors in line with the national development policy; Bank Kerjasama Rakyat Malaysia Berhad, a cooperative bank that encourages savings and provides financial services to members and non-members; the Export-Import Bank of Malaysia Berhad or EXIM Bank, which provides credit facilities to finance and support the exports and imports of goods and overseas projects as well as to provide export credit insurance services and guarantee facilities; Bank Simpanan Nasional focuses on retail banking and personal finance especially for small savers, and supports the financial inclusion agenda by providing microfinance and agent banking services; and Bank Pertanian Malaysia Berhad or Agrobank, which accepts savings deposits and provides financing and advisory services to support the development of the agricultural sector and communities

1.3 Malaysia International Islamic Financial Centre

In August 2006, the Malaysia International Islamic Financial Centre (MIFC) initiative was launched to position Malaysia as the international hub of Islamic Finance and to strengthen the country’s role as an intellectual epicenter for Islamic finance.

The MIFC initiative comprises a community network of financial and market regulatory bodies, Government ministries and agencies, financial institutions, human capital development institutions and professional services companies that participate in the field of Islamic finance.

The MIFC initiative is supported by international legal, regulatory and Shariah best practices that enable industry practitioners to conduct international business in Islamic finance through out Malaysia, while enjoying attractive incentives in a business friendly environment.

As a destination for financial investment, Malaysia offers a platform and a gateway for global Shariah-compliant investment opportunities via the MIFC initiative. Malaysia offers a business connection to each segment of our Shariah-compliant financial industry with attractive value-propositions and opportunities for global institutions, talents, investors and issuers.

Malaysia is well positioned to act as a gateway to facilitate and enhance greater international linkages and market integration in Islamic finance between the Asian region and the rest of the world. Situated centrally in the Asian time zone, Malaysia presents itself as a meeting platform for those with surplus funds and those who seek to raise funds from any part of the world.

Malaysia invites global experts, leading players, investors and issuers alike to shape the future of Islamic finance together through the MIFC initiative, leveraging on and benefiting from Malaysia’s more than 30 years of experience in Islamic finance, in an environment of innovation and thought leadership.
For more information on the MIFC initiative, please visit

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