A lack of access to financial markets is a common challenge faced by the poor across ASEAN countries. Without access to traditional lines of credit or banking, the poor and undocumented often rely on informal means to manage their money. Moneylending is a form of informal financing that has played an important role in facilitating private sector growth and the livelihood of communities that fall beyond the reach of the formal financial system.
There is much confusion among the public in Malaysia between licensed money lending and loan sharking, negatively tainting the reputation of licensed moneylenders. In addition, some think that licensed moneylenders have the same business model and operate exactly like a bank. To deal with these issues and other misconceptions faced by the industry, a heavy handed enforcement approach has been adopted by the government. These efforts empower the police and authorities with increasing powers, and has resulted in unintended consequences that choke the operations of licensed moneylenders.