Telenor Group has reached a strategic partnership agreement with Ant Financial in Pakistan, which will see Ant Financial invest USD $184.5 million for a 45 per cent stake in Telenor Microfinance Bank (TMB), a subsidiary of Telenor Group, to further develop TMB’s mobile payment and digital financial services for Pakistan.
The strategic partnership between Telenor Group and Ant Financial combines TMB’s knowledge and local market presence with more than 20 million customers, and Ant’s technology in Alipay, the world’s largest digital payment platform, and other financial services, to bring mobile payment andinclusive financial services to individuals as well as small and micro businesses in Pakistan.
TMB offers Easypaisa, a mobile financial services platform launched in 2009, which has since developed into the largest branchless banking service in Pakistan in terms of agent network, active accounts and transaction value, according to the State Bank of Pakistan. TMB also provides micro-finance and related financial services to the less privileged and unbanked segment of the Pakistani society.
“Partnering with a world leading payment provider like Ant Financial will strengthen Telenor Microfinance Bank’s future payment platform and set new standards in the digital banking business in Pakistan,” Telenor Group CEO Sigve Brekke said. “The establishment of this partnership is well in-line with the expressed Telenor strategy of focusing our financial services efforts in emerging markets, making sure that we’re able to build and modernize the businesses in line with customer needs.”
Today, more than 100 million Pakistanis are unbanked, accounting for five per cent of the world’s unbanked population, according to the World Bank. This is expected to change drastically in the years to come, especially with rising smartphone penetration. To prepare for that, TMB need to build their digital competence and execution capabilities to serve the need of the users.
Completion of the transaction is subject to customary regulatory approvals.