Ant Financial Services Group, an affiliate company of Alibaba Group, has inked an agreement to acquire a 45% stake in Pakistan-based Telenor Microfinance Bank (TMB) for $184.5m.
TMB operates as a subsidiary of mobile operator Telenor Group.
The strategic partnership will combine TMB’s local market presence with more than 20 million clients and Ant’s digital payment platform Alipay to deliver mobile payment and inclusive financial services to individuals and small and micro businesses in Pakistan.
Ant Financial CEO Eric Jing said: “Today, we are very happy to share our technology knowhow 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.”
Telenor Group CEO Sigve Brekke said: “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 modernise the businesses in line with customer needs.”
A World Bank reports states that more than 100 million Pakistanis are unbanked, accounting for 5% of the globe’s unbanked population.
“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.
The transaction is subject customary regulatory approvals.