China's Ant Financial Services Group announced Wednesday that it has reached a strategic partnership agreement with Norwegian Telenor Group to deliver inclusive financial services in Pakistan.
According to the agreement, Ant Financial will invest 184.5 million U.S. dollars for a 45 percent stake in Telenor Microfinance Bank (TMB), an affiliate of Telenor Group in Pakistan, to further develop TMB's mobile payment and digital financial services in the country.
The agreement said the strategic partnership would combine 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 other financial services to people as well as small and micro businesses in Pakistan.
TMB launched Easypaisa, Pakistan's first mobile financial services platform in 2009, which has since developed into the largest branchless banking service in Pakistan in terms of agent network, active accounts and transaction value.
"Partnering with a world leading payment provider will strengthen TMB's future payment platform and set new standards in the digital banking business in Pakistan," said Sigve Brekke, CEO of Telenor Group.
For his part, Eric Jing, CEO of Ant Financial, said Ant would "share its technology knowhow with TMB 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."
Currently, more than 100 million Pakistanis are unbanked, accounting for 5 percent of the world's unbanked population, according to the World Bank.