According to a news report by ProPakistani, a sister concern of EconomyAge, Zong is going to bring a full-fledged branchless banking solution, to become second telecom operator (after Telenor) to offer a mobile banking solution of this scale and third such mobile banking implementation (after Easypaisa and UBL Omni) in the country.
The pilot project will include most of the branchless banking products that Zong is going to offer, in addition to some other products such as salary disbursements.
It merits mentioning here that Askari Bank, backed by the Army Welfare Trust, was awarded a branchless banking license few months ago.
And Chinese Badly Need a Bank in Pakistan
Although the song of Pak-China friendship is quite famous in political and business circles but one thing that Chinese are still missing is a notable banking presence in Pakistan.
Five months ago there were rumors that the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China was in talks to acquire stakes in NIB Bank, one of the most inefficient of the middle tier banks.
Sources in the banking industry also rumored that China (through ICBC) has definitely been looking for acquisition targets. At one point in the past year, there were rumors of the Chinese giant possibly acquiring Faysal Bank. That rumor, however, was quickly dismissed when Faysal Bank announced that it is not for sale. Faysal’s Saudi owners are reported to be quite happy with their Pakistani bank’s profitability and growth.
EconomyAge discusses China’s repetitive attempts of acquiring a bank in Pakistan with a seasoned banker, who wishes not to be named for this article.
"Banking presence in Pakistan is very crucial to China for obvious reasons but since Pakistan has been used as a proxy war-ground so few foreign powers exert their influence in Pakistan through different channels to stop China from expanding their influence in Pakistan", the source said.
"Chine once even tried to acquire Bank Alfalah as well but in my opinion Faysal Bank and Bank Alfalah both are out of question as acquisition targets since the Saudi owners are in healthy relations with those foreign powers", the source added.
Now isn’t it interesting that China Mobile, parent company of Zong, collaborated with Askari Bank, backed by Army Welfare Trust?
New War Ground – Banking Industry!
This is definitely the first successful move from Chinese to start their banking service, with help from an Army Trust backed Bank, in Pakistan but the real fight is yet to begin.
If one can raise question as why would Askari Bank help Chinese with their Banking ambitions in Pakistan then one might also ask as why a secret British fund is helping Telenor to market EasyPaisa in Pakistan?
This was accidently revealed by Andrew Mitchell, British Secretary of State for Department of International Development (DFID) while responding to media persons in Karachi; he had said, “UK supported the mobile banking with initial seed money”.
Romance with Pakistani Banking Industry
If you’re watching Fox News then it would be hard for you to digest but Pakistan is ‘still’ good for business and its banking sector is an attraction to international investors and businesses.
But British and Chinese are not the only one who will be battling in this ground. The Arabs through their UBL Omni will also be there to compete. Pakistani market is surly turning out to be a lucrative playground for banking, especially the mobile banking play. It has in fact attracted the attention of whole world as a successful banking model for the rural population that accounts more than 75 percent of country’s total population.
One can anticipate increased investment inflows in this sector, resulting into a tough competition eventually.
We know that Mobilink is preparing its mobile banking solution under the banner of Waseela, while Ufone has also acquired a microfinance bank to enter into the race. Warid can use Bank Alfalah to compete others.
One can safely say that the grand play has begun.
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