AirAsia growing payments business as part of digital push - Group CEO

SINGAPORE, March 15 (Reuters) - AirAsia Bhd plans to expand its BigPay debit card and mobile app recently launched in Malaysia to other countries in the region and to add remittance and lending products, its group CEO said, as the budget airline group taps new revenue sources.

BigPay is one of the businesses AirAsia, a pioneer of low-cost flying in Asia, has been developing to help gain more data on customers and to increase earnings from income streams other than selling tickets.

“We are going to cut exchange rates. We will also disrupt the remittance market. And finally we will get into the money lending business,” AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes said at the Money20/20 Asia conference in Singapore.

The company has also been selling physical assets, like its leasing business and pilot training centre, as it focuses more on digital business development.

Corrine Png, CEO of transport research firm Crucial Perspective, said in a Feb. 28 note to clients that AirAsia was making “marked progress” on digitalisation and could ultimately triple in value if it is able to monetise its data.

The BigPay app allows customers to store up to 10 credit or debit cards as top-up sources and for users to pay their friends instantly. Users also earn reward points with AirAsia’s loyalty programme.

Other airlines such as EasyJet plc and Qantas Airways Ltd offer travel money cards but they do not have remittances or lending businesses. (Reporting by Jamie Freed and Anshuman Daga Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)