Pakistan’s digital payments’ landscape is finally getting a newcomer which has over 800 million users across multiple markets.
Alipay is the China-based third-party mobile and online payments platform by Alibaba Group, which is going to start operations in Pakistan by the end of this year, according to Irfan Wahab Khan, the Telenor chief executive officer.
Irfan Wahab Khan is also a board member of the Telenor Microfinance Bank in which Ant Financial, the parent company of Alipay and the financial services affiliate of Alibaba, acquired a 45% stake at an investment of $184.5 million in March 2018.
Ant is the world’s largest Fintech co. It has been focused in the past couple of years on growing its scale overseas. Though its acquisition bid for US money-transfer giant MoneyGram failed earlier this year, Ant has struck local partnerships with digital and financial players in strategic markets like Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore and South Korea.
Currently, Ant Financial is in the process of taking approval from relevant authorities such as the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) to commence financial services in the country.
While mobile phone infrastructure and service penetrate 72% of the population, according to the latest data available with the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), future growth will rely on digital payments becoming more accessible.
Pakistan has 58 million broadband subscribers including 56 million 3G/4G subscribers. Its e-commerce market is estimated at $1 billion, and gaining momentum.
“We are putting a site an hour on 4G and will complete 80% of them by the end of this year,” said Khan, who took over as CEO Telenor Pakistan on August 1, 2016.
Telenor is currently placed second as the CMO with the highest number of subscribers. It has 43 million subscribers after Jazz, which is the market leader with 55 million.
Alipay’s experience in Pakistan may provide stimulus to some major e-commerce FDI coming into Pakistan later. While Alipay could help revolutionize the financial side of e-commerce here, local players like Daraz, TCS, and others are slowly becoming efficient at merchandising and marketing.