Bringing out the big guns: Mobilink to roll out branchless banking services

Published: September 23, 2011
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The State Bank of Pakisan (SBP) approved the license of Orascom to initiate microfinance banking in the country last week. Mobilink aims to compete with Telenor's easypaisa service. PHOTO: FILE

The State Bank of Pakisan (SBP) approved the license of Orascom to initiate microfinance banking in the country last week. Mobilink aims to compete with Telenor's easypaisa service. PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI: 

Mobilink is on the verge of breaking Telenor’s easypaisa monopoly as it has almost completed the process of entering the branchless banking world.

The State Bank of Pakisan (SBP) approved the license of Orascom to initiate microfinance banking in the country last week.

The largest cellular service provider will join hands with the proposed microfinance bank to offer branchless banking services , said the company’s official spokesperson.

Orascom, the parent company of Mobilink, invested at least Rs1 billion in the project as it is the central bank’s minimum capital requirement for a microfinance bank licence.

This is the first time Telenor’s easypaisa will have any real competition. Telenor launched the widely used easypaisa in collaboration with Tameer Microfinance Bank in November 2009.

Telecom experts said that this might actually be good for Telenor given that competition would actually promote financial inclusion

Telenor’s Easypaisa offically welcomes the competition. The President and CEO for Easypaisa, Nadeem Hussain says that, “the unbanked population in Pakistan is so large, that any one entity cannot cater to it. More players in the market means that the onus of educating people will be divided and growth in the market will be good for everyone providing mobile financial services”. Hussain explains that Easypaisa was the first mobile financial service to launch in Pakistan and that it has the first mover advantage. “And we plan to capitalise on it,” he said.

Mobilink says that launch dates will be announced as soon as all infrastructural formalities are complete.

Online sources are saying that the service being provided might be called “Waseela”, however sources at Mobilink say that the service has not been branded yet, which means that it might take a little while to come to the market.

With the progressive use of mobile phones, cellular operators are cashing in on the lucrative financial services industry.

They are utilising the network of people and their mobile phones to capitalise on the fact that a very small percentage of the people are part of the formal sector.

With Mobilink’s network all over Pakistan, it is quite well placed to offer branchless banking and a slew of other financial services that they have planned.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 23rd, 2011.

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Reader Comments (6)

  • Shahid
    Sep 23, 2011 - 3:56PM

    Telenor is not the only player ni the market. There is UBL Omni and although their service is not that good, they dont discriminate against mobile phone operator, so i can have any phone connection and still open account whereas for easy paisa i first have to have a telenor connection. With mobilink this will be the case again. you will need to have a mobilink connection.

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  • Tariq Sayeed Khan
    Sep 23, 2011 - 4:29PM

    @ Omair (Author)
    You have incorrectly stated that Telenor has a monopoly. UBL Omni has been in the market for over a year as it was launched in April 2010. It is offering all the services that easy paisa is and then some; bill payment, money transfer/domestic remittance, mobile voucher purchase as well as cash withdrawal and deposit if you open an account.

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  • Hasnain
    Sep 23, 2011 - 4:32PM

    I think we have missed out UBL Omni here as they are also playing major role in brancless banking category and with UBL’s banking experience and backing it sholuld be more reliable.

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  • Shaheer
    Sep 23, 2011 - 5:43PM

    We know that Mobilink was eager to offer mobile banking services in Pakistan for long but after failed deal with RBS and then because of regulatory hurdles it took them longer than they had initially expected to launch the service, but EasyPaisa is not their only competition in the market. Author might have missed it, there is another similar kind of service present in market by United Bank knows as Omni, through there network is not that big right now but yes it’s there. Apart from these two in terms of bill payment Nadra is there, which currently have a good chunk of bill collection agents, known as Nadra Franchises.

    From some resources i have heard that Mobilink will start off with remittance services then move ahead with branchless accounts to give Telenor EasyPaisa & UBL Omni first real competition. However, down the line Mobilink plans to offer more sophisticated mobile banking services that may include saving accounts, merchant accounts, life insurances, virtual online wallets and so on but who knows Telenor EP or Omni might have planned somethings even better.

    Anyone of you might have seen the Ufone add?? which says something like ‘ufone franchise is everywhere..’ probably they might be planning something too..

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  • Tariq Sayeed Khan
    Sep 24, 2011 - 9:28AM

    When talking about Utility bill payments, there are so many optiosn in the market available now, that anyone who still pays the bill by standing in line at the bank branch should be called called stupid or ignorant. sorry for the harsh words, but that is a fact.

    For remittance services there is also Post Office’s money order that a lto of people use.

    So there are a lot of players in the market offerring parts of the whole branchless banking package, but so far only two players offer the whole package; easy paisa & omni.

    However omni has the advantage of being telco agnostic. It is not aligned with any particular mobile network operator (MNO).

    Let’s see Mobilink brings to the table. But one things for sure they will do it with a big bang.

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  • Shaheer
    Sep 24, 2011 - 9:00PM

    @ Tariq: Agreed, but this is Pakistan where most of the public is illiterate and they have a strong habit of deposing bills at bank counter. It’s not about being silly it takes time when people get used-to new things..

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