HBL to Offer Branchless Banking by Early 2012

Habib Bank Limited is reportedly all prepared to get into branchless banking business service in Pakistan to give competition to established rival like Easypaisa with a bank led branchless banking solution.

From what we have heard HBL will introduce branchless banking solution in market by early 2012. Through sources we know that HBL has spared millions of dollars for the marketing spend, and they are planning to big bang the market when they launch in January 2012.

HBL claims that their branchless banking solution would be more sophisticated than what we already have in market, i.e. in addition to those standard services of bill payment, mobile wallets and local remittance, HBL will go ahead to offer retail solutions to merchants to enable their customers to pay taxi fare, gas station charges or for other similar retail outlets with mobile phones. HBL aims to offer international remittance from Mobile phones as well.

Azfar Jamal, head of branchless banking at Habib Bank, in a conversation with ProPakistani told that they have partnered with Sybase 365 to provide the technology, infrastructure, and software solution for the product, while they will use Ufone as telco partner to get USSD access. Abacus Consulting is said to be the responsible for deployment of the product.

HBL’s this arrangement with Ufone won’t be exclusive in nature as they may get other operators on board to start offering the services to customers in large.

HBL has support of 1500 branches in the country. Bank plans to pitch and grab 4 to 5 million of their existing customers for branchless banking solutions.

We are awaiting more details on features and pricing structure to be better positioned to compare HBL BB services with EasyPaisa and UBL Omni.

Following is the official release this:

imageSINGAPORE –Nov 15, 2011: HBL, Pakistan’s largest bank, inked a Technology Support agreement with Sybase 365, the global leader in mobile messaging and mobile commerce services, and AbacusConsulting, leading management and technology consultancy firm, for the deployment of branchless banking services. Senior Management of HBL, Mr. Faiq Sadiq – Head of Payment Services, Mr. Mudassir Khan – Chief Information Officer, Tarik Husain, Business Development Director, mCommerce – Sybase 365 and Mr. Abbas Ali Khan – Senior Partner, Abacus Consulting along with other officials of Sybase365 were present on the occasion

Pakistan is one of the fastest developing markets for branchless banking in the world. HBL’s branchless banking initiative is a large scale deployment in the region, which will create opportunities for bringing unbanked segments of society into the financial network. Sybase 365 and Abacus Consulting will implement branchless banking services for HBL and facilitate this large scale deployment for capitalizing on great market potential including rural and unbanked population.

On this occasion, Mr. Faiq Sadiq commented “This initiative of BB will address 85% of the un/ under banked population of Pakistan, through which HBL is looking to enhance its number of customers substantially as well as focus on a systematic strategy of financial inclusion leading to inclusive growth in this region”. Mr. Mudassir Khan also commented about selecting Sybase 365 by saying: “After looking at several m-commerce and branchless banking solutions, we decided to choose Sybase 365 that is owned by SAP and is a leading global platform. We are confident that it will give us an edge as it has the required scalability, performance and interoperability to ensure that HBL provides an unmatched customer experience.”

The competitive business and technology insights of AbacusConsulting and Sybase 365 will provide a winning combination to HBL. “We are pleased to be a part of this immaculate transformation of financial sector in partnership with HBL. This initiative is a step towards making branchless banking in Pakistan commercially viable and sustainable. This large scale deployment is the first of its kind which opens door for innovation and advancement in financial sector of Pakistan, said Abbas Ali Khan, Senior Partner, AbacusConsulting.

Sybase is the world’s largest provider of mCommerce solutions and services to mobile operators and FSIs globally. “Today’s global economy is becoming a mobile economy with consumers requiring convenient access to transaction channels anytime, anywhere,” said Matthew Talbot, senior vice president, mCommerce, Sybase 365. “Our partnership with the HBL to provide a leading mCommerce solution is pioneering the way customers interact with their financial institutions and communities.”

Tech reporter with over 10 years of experience, founder of ProPakistani.PK