Telenor Group announced it has reached a strategic partnership agreement with Ant Financial Services Group in Pakistan, under which Ant Financial will invest $184.5 million for a 45% stake in Telenor Microfinance Bank (TMB) to further develop TMB’s mobile payment and digital financial services.
The partnership combines TMB’s knowledge and local market presence with more than 20 million customers with Ant’s technology in its Alipay digital payment platform and other financial services – to bring mobile payment and inclusive financial services to individuals as well as small and micro businesses in Pakistan.
TMB offers Easypaisa, Pakistan’s first 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 [PDF]. TMB also provides micro-finance and related financial services to the less privileged and unbanked segment of the Pakistani society.
“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,” says Sigve Brekke, CEO of Telenor Group.
Today, more than 100 million Pakistanis are unbanked, accounting for 5% 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, companies like TMB need to build their digital competence and execution capabilities to serve the need of the users, Telenor said.
Completion of the transaction is subject to regulatory approvals.