Telenor Group has reached a strategic partnership agreement with Ant Financial Services Group (“Ant Financial”) in Pakistan, where Ant Financial will invest USD 184.5m for a 45% stake in Telenor Microfinance Bank (“TMB”), a subsidiary of Telenor Group, to further develop TMB’s mobile payment and digital financial services.
Ant Financial is most valuable fintech company in the world and was formerly known as Alipay.
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 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. 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. 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. I’m truly excited about the opportunities this partnership brings for Telenor Microfinance Bank going forward,” says Sigve Brekke, CEO of Telenor Group.
“Ant Financial is pleased to be in this strategic partnership with Telenor Group. Alipay’s technologies make us uniquely placed to achieve our mission of bringing the world equal opportunities. Today, we are very happy to share our technology know-how with Telenor Microfinance Bank to bring improved user experience on the Easypaisa mobile payment platform, as well as provide inclusive financial services in a transparent, safe, low cost and efficient way to the unbanked and underbanked population in Pakistan,” said Eric Jing, CEO of Ant Financial.
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.
Completion of the transaction is subject to customary regulatory approvals.