Ant Financial is to invest $184.5 million for a 45% stake in Telenor Microfinance Bank (TMB) in its first foray into Pakistan. A subsidiary of Norway’s Telenor Group, TMB launched Pakistan’s first mobile financial services platform in 2009 which has become the country’s largest branchless banking service. Ant Financial is expected to introduce the technology behind its Alipay platform to develop mobile payments in Pakistan.

While India has recently become quite the battleground for Chinese tech firms—to the extent that they are proving kingmakers—this is Ant Financial’s first move into neighboring Pakistan, a country where around 100 million people (over half the population) do not have a bank account, a perfect opportunity for the likes of Alipay.

Easypaisa, TMB’s mobile financial platform in Pakistan, has over 20 million users. It offers banking and micro-finance services. Alipay’s services and user experience have seen it grow to 800 million users. TMB has recognized the need for this expertise.

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Frank Hersey

Frank Hersey is a Beijing-based tech reporter who's been coming to China since 2001. He tries to go beyond the headlines to explain the context and impact of developments in China's tech sector. Get in...