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Pakistani startup OneLoad raises $11 million from investors to fund growth phase

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  • Pakistan has the third-largest unbanked population in the world.
  • OneLoad is a pioneer in Pakistan’s fintech industry.
  • OneLoad has raised $11 million from investors to fund a growth phase.

Pakistan’s micro-retailer fintech OneLoad has raised $11 million from investors to fund a growth phase as they focus on tapping the world’s third largest unbanked population, Bloomberg reported.

According to the publication, the latest round of investment was led by Sarmayacar and Shorooq Partners, in cooperation from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Strategic Investment Fund, which was making its first investment in Pakistan. 

OneLoad’s Android application, which is primarily used by small shopkeepers, is Pakistan’s largest non-banking digital transaction platform, serving several million customers each month. It collaborates with banks and telecommunications companies to provide services such as payments, cash deposits, and lending.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Muhammad Yar Hiraj, founder and CEO of OneLoad, stated that the company aspires to be the “largest banking platform in the country for the unbanked world, the financially excluded market. “Our goal is to become the largest micro branch for the unbanked without owning any branches,” he said.

OneLoad has 40,000 agents and completed about $100 million in transactions last year. 

According to Hiraj, the company’s goal is to increase daily transactions to one million from the current level of up to 400,000.

Pakistan, the world’s fifth-most populous country, made headlines last year when it received a record $350 million in startup funding. According to the World Bank, the country has a total unbanked population of 110 million adults, ranking third only to India and China.

While digital payments increased in Pakistan during the pandemic, only 1% of nearly $4 trillion in payments are made digitally. Last month, Dbank completed the country’s largest early-stage fundraising round, as well as the entry of venture capital firm Sequoia Capital into Pakistan. SadaPay, another fintech startup, is expected to be the world’s fastest-growing mobile wallet in the five years to 2025, according to research from London-based fintech company Boku Inc.

In contrast to most of its competitors, OneLoad intends to expand its shopkeepers and serve daily wage workers.

According to Hiraj, the startup’s existing backer Systems Ltd. participated in the funding round, as did commercial banks that provided debt funding. The International Financial Corporation of the World Bank is another existing investor.

“We cannot have financial inclusion without solid infrastructure that integrates in people’s daily lives, if the products we build don’t seamlessly integrate with people’s every day, we will not achieve that,” said Tamer Azer, Partner at Shorooq Partners.

“This is what we learned in Egypt and this is what we see as a tremendous opportunity in Pakistan as well,” he added.

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Moody’s says the IMF programme will increase Pakistan’s foreign financing.

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Moody’s, a reputable international rating agency, has stated that Pakistan’s chances of acquiring funding will increase as a result of the recent agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which offers dependable sources for that purpose from both friendly countries and international financial institutions.

According to a recent Moody’s analysis on Pakistan’s economy, social unrest and tensions could result from Pakistan’s ongoing inflation. The country’s economic reforms may be hampered by increased taxes and potential changes to the energy tariff, it continued.

Moody’s, on the other hand, agrees that the coalition government headed by Shehbaz Sharif of the PML-N is in danger of failing to secure an election mandate, which may potentially undermine the successful and long-lasting execution of economic reforms.

The government’s capacity to proceed with economic changes may be hampered by societal unrest and poor governance, according to Moody’s.

In order to appease the IMF by fulfilling a prerequisite for authorising a rescue package, the government raised the basic tariff on electricity, which coincided with the most recent increase in fuel prices announced on Monday. This report was released by Moody’s.

Food costs have increased in the nation, where the vast majority is experiencing an unprecedented crisis due to the high cost of living, following the government’s earlier presentation of a budget that included a large increase in income tax for the salaried classes and the implementation of GST on commodities like milk.

The most recent comments were made following Islamabad’s achievement of a staff-level agreement for a $7 billion contract that spans 37 months and is contingent upon final approval by the IMF Executive Board.

It states that Pakistan will need foreign financing totaling about $21 billion in 2024–2025 and $23 billion in 2025–2026, meaning that the country’s present $9.4 billion in reserves won’t be sufficient to cover its needs.

Therefore, according to Moody’s, Pakistan is in an alarming position with regard to its external debt, and the next three to five years will be extremely difficult for the formulation and implementation of policies.

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Base Of bilateral relations: China And Pakistan Reiterate Their Support For CPEC

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China-Pakistan economic corridor is a major project of the Belt and Road Initiative, and both countries have reiterated their commitment to it. It remains a fundamental aspect of their bilateral relations.

Vice Chairman Zhao Chenxin of the National Development and Reform Commission of China and Minister Ahsan Iqbal of Planning and Development met in Beijing, where Ahsan Iqbal made this assurance.

The summit made clear how committed China and Pakistan are to advancing their strategic cooperative partnership in all weather conditions.

The focus of the discussion was on how the CPEC was going, with both parties reviewing project development and discussing how the agreement made at the leadership level will lead to the launch of an enhanced version of the CPEC.

In order to improve trade, connectivity, and socioeconomic growth in the area, they emphasised the need of CPEC projects.

The Ml-I Project, the KKH realignment, and the Sukkur-Hyderabad motorway—the last remaining segment of the Karachi-Peshawar motorway network—were all to be expedited.

Expanding the partnership’s horizons to include technology, innovation, education, connectivity, and renewable energy sources was another topic of discussion.

Specifically in the special economic zones being built under the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation (CPEX), Vice Chairman NDRC emphasised the possibility of China investing more in Pakistan.

In addition to expressing confidence in the ongoing success of the two nations’ collaboration, Zhao Chenxin reiterated China’s support for Pakistan’s development aspirations.

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Pakistani government raises petrol prices

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A recent announcement states that the price of petrol has increased by Rs 9.99 per litre, to Rs 275.60 per litre.

The cost of high-speed diesel has also increased significantly, rising by Rs 6.18 a litre. Diesel is now priced at Rs 283.63 a litre.

Furthermore, kerosene now costs Rs 0.83 more per gallon.

The cost of products and services is predicted to rise in response to the increase in petroleum prices, further taxing household budgets and jeopardizing the stability of the economy.

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