Alibaba’s Ant Financial invests $185mn into Pakistani Telco, TMB
Ant Financial, the finance arm of Alibaba Group, has acquired a 45% stake in Telenor Microfinance Bank (TMB), a mobile platform in Pakistan.
TMB is a subsidiary of Norwegian telecommunications company, Telenor. In 2009 it launched the first mobile financial service platform for Pakistan, which soon became the largest “branchless banking service” in the country.
According to TechNode, around 100mn people in Pakistan don’t have a bank account. This means that mobile finance platforms will be a viable alternative for many of the country’s 210mn-strong consumer base to manage their money.
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Telenor itself was founded in Norway in 1855, and now operates across 12 markets in Scandinavia, Eastern Europe and Asia. It now serves around 178mn customers.
The investment, which cost around $185mn, is Ant Financial’s first entry into Pakistan. It is expected that Ant will introduce the technology from its already popular e-payment platform, AliPay, to develop mobile payment offerings in Pakistan.
This will be used with TMB’s existing platform, Easypaisa. The platform offers “banking and micro-finance services” and currently has over 20mn users. Alipay already has around 800mn users.
Vice President of Telenor Group, Atle Lessum, told TechNode: “Both parties are bringing complementary skills and expertise into the partnership. Telenor has done a significant job in building a traditional microfinance and OTC (over-the-counter) business. Ant will bring world-class fintech and payment expertise to the table, bringing in the necessary digital skills to build the digital business in Pakistan to new standards.”