Alipay’s Latest Mobile Payments Push Targets Pakistan

March 15, 2018         By: Steven Anderson

It would be easy to think that Pakistan isn’t much of a market for mobile payment services, but Ant Financial of Alipay fame doesn’t share that pessimistic assessment. It recently sent us new reports saying that it’s shelling out big money for a shot at the Pakistani market, with a likely expectation of big returns in the process.

The agreement between Ant Financial and Telenor Group calls for Ant to put up $184.5 million in exchange for a 45 percent stake in Telenor subsidiary the Telenor Microfinance Bank (TMB). With that stake comes the ability to develop the mobile payment and digital financial services that the bank offers.

Since TMB counts better than 20 million local customers to its credit, at last report, that’s going to give Ant Financial a nice platform to work from. Perhaps not as large as it’s used to working with, but still substantial nonetheless. Included in the plan is not only mobile payments for individual users, but also a slate of small business solutions, even microbusiness solutions.

TMB already offers a mobile payments platform in Easypaisa—the first mobile financial services platform released in Pakistan—so it’s not that the company doesn’t already have a background or a presence in this sector. It’s just that the presence could be more substantial, and TMB is working accordingly to ramp it up.

Ant Financial has been providing mobile payments and similar services to a population an order of magnitude higher than TMB has been. Thus, it’s a safe bet that Ant Financial will be able to handle a market that is, relative to what it’s used to, comparatively small. With word currently out that says over 100 million Pakistanis are unbanked, it’s an opportunity for someone to step in. That it’s Ant Financial, who might as well take on “Carpe Diem” as a corporate motto, isn’t much of a surprise given what we’ve seen so far.

This likely isn’t the last we’ll hear of Ant Financial’s mobile payments ambitions. It’s spreading out all over the world, and this push into Pakistan is just one more in a long series of steps.