Photo: Oneload

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

by Pakistan News
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Photo: Oneload

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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