Pakistan’s fintech market is witnessing a surge in international interest. The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, has announced that it will be investing in OneLoad, a digital platform and payment system for retailers developed by EP Systems (Pvt.) Ltd, a subsidiary of Systems Limited (SYS).
The global financial institution will purchase approximately 20% of the company, making OneLoad IFC’s first fintech investment in Pakistan. The investment has been led by IFC’s FinTech Team based in Washington, D.C., USA. It is expected that at least one IFC executive will join EP Systems’ board of directors.
The fintech market in Pakistan has seen few major players in recent times. With leading banks entering the fintech play and increasing popularity of telecom-based financial services like JazzCash and EasyPaisa, the fintech industry has attracted considerable attention. OneLoad disrupts the fintech market with its innovative solutions while strengthening fintech interoperability by integrations with all major banking and fintech players in the market.
OneLoad’s core product is a simple phone and web application that is being used by your local small shop owners, convenience stores, and pharmacies to serve walk-in customers, providing them with on-demand services, including mobile airtime, data packages, digital media subscriptions, and a range of financial services.
Mobile networks are expanding and the Internet is becoming more accessible. Better connectivity has allowed users to conveniently and efficiently access services and purchase products online. Whether it is watching movies on Netflix or buying goods on Amazon, demand for hassle-free access to online services is rapidly increasing. In Pakistan, nearly 20 million customers visit retailers daily for digital services like mobile airtime, data packages, and digital media subscriptions.
To serve the customers of each mobile carrier, retailers have needed to invest in separate devices and scratch cards that can only be used to top up that carrier’s mobile subscribers. They often run out of mobile credit for one carrier while still having money invested in scratch cards for other carriers. This creates serious cash flow issues for micro-retailers with extremely limited resources.
OneLoad solves for all of its retailers’ major pain points by eliminating a physical inventory of scratch cards and aggregating digital merchandise into a single app with a single balance. They can then use this balance for all telco top-ups, local and international service providers, banking solutions, and digital payment solutions for the mass market, reducing their working capital need. In a country where a large proportion of the population doesn’t have a bank account, debit card, or credit card, OneLoad provides a convenient method for retailers to serve walk-in customers.
Rahim Khan, a OneLoad micro-retailer, is a great example of how OneLoad is a tool for poverty alleviation, providing a tremendous opportunity to people in the low-income strata who wish to earn additional income by becoming freelance agents, but have no prior experience and have limited upfront capital to invest.
I am a parking attendant for a big corporate office building in Gulberg, Lahore. I have been working here for 5 years. I earned PKR 18,000 per month, but that was barely enough to pay my bills. I needed additional cash to fund my children’s education who are in grade 2 and grade 5. I want to be able to give them a good education so that they can work in a corporate office.
Ashraf, one of my neighbors who drives an Uber and sells airtime to his customers told me about OneLoad. He says he was able to increase his monthly income by PKR 12,000 by becoming a OneLoad retailer. On his suggestion, I downloaded the OneLoad app on my existing smartphone and called the OneLoad helpline. They activated my retailer account. I recharged my OneLoad balance by going to the khokha near my house and asking the shopkeeper to add PKR 1,000 on my OneLoad number.
I have been using OneLoad for 7 months, selling data packages, airtime, and vouchers to people in my office building. A lot of people come to me to pay their utility bills, too, because there is no bank nearby and it is very convenient for them to pay their bills through me.
I have managed to add approximately PKR 400 to my daily income. Not only can I afford to send my kids to a neighborhood private school, but I can also get them toys and new books now. I have requested the corporate building administration to let me set up a small shop in the parking where I can hire an employee, become a branchless banking agent, and earn additional income by providing other OneLoad services like money transfers.
OneLoad is increasing grassroots financial inclusion by providing easy and convenient digital payment solutions. Not only is it an ideal channel of income generation for micro-entrepreneurs, but also for young male and female students who can sell products and earn handsome commissions anywhere, any time. To get started, they just need to fill out a quick registration form online and download the OneLoad app for Android or iOS.
Despite its bare-bones marketing budget, OneLoad is remarkably popular: more than eight million customers are served by OneLoad each month. OneLoad has grown its presence organically by empowering over 35,000 local merchants and shop owners, and offering a simple phone and web application to transform them into a gateway to global commerce. From purchasing internet data packages, topping up all carriers’ prepaid mobile accounts, and paying utility bills to purchasing bus tickets and vouchers for online shopping, OneLoad’s app ranks among the most versatile fintech products on the market.
Focused on increasing digital payments access for low-income groups, OneLoad has the potential to plug Pakistan’s mass market into the global economy and improve their socioeconomic wellbeing. With the IFC’s direct guidance and investment, the organization is expected to expand its reach and become a dominant player in the region. IFC’s participation will also boost global confidence and encourage direct foreign investment in other Pakistani startups.
We are very excited about IFC’s decision to become an important part of our organization’s story,” said Muhammad Yar Hiraj, CEO, EP Systems.
We have always been very proud of the work we’re doing, and the way OneLoad empowers small retailers in Pakistan, especially those who have never used digital technology or digital services in their daily commercial activity. IFC’s interest in our organization and its mission is the latest in a long series of indicators that OneLoad is a force for positive change in the country. We eagerly look forward to a long-term relationship with IFC.