Sequoia, the world’s most influential venture fund, has made its first investment in Pakistan, joining a growing list of high-profile investors who have supported early-stage companies in the South Asian market over the past year.
Islamabad-based startup Dbank announced Thursday that it has raised $17.6 million in a seed round, the largest in Pakistan, co-led by Sequoia Capital Southeast Asia recently announced $1 billion fundand Little Perkins. Brazil’s neobank Nubank, Askari Bank, Rayn also participated in the round, the Pakistani startup said.
Dbank is a fintech startup that will seek to expand the reach of financial services in Pakistan in a “transparent and friendly” manner by taking on the informal credit system that tends to exploit those in need with exorbitant and unpredictable interest rates, it said Tanya AidrusCo-founder of Dbank, interviewed by TechCrunch.
Johan Surani, VP at Sequoia Southeast Asia, said in a statement that Dbank will try to “democratize banking,” but the startup wants to keep its roadmap under wraps for now, Aidrus said.
Almost half of Pakistan’s population of over 220 million is currently unbanked. “We want our users to be in control of their money and able to make informed decisions,” said Aidrus.
She started with the Dbank Khurram Jamali, who both studied the challenges faced by the unbanked population closely during their previous tenures at Google, where they worked on payment tracks for the company’s Next Billion Users initiative. Aidrus then briefly joined the Government of Pakistan as Chief Digital Officer.
The State Bank of Pakistan, the country’s central bank, has aggressively sought ways to modernize the country’s payment infrastructure in recent years to promote financial inclusion in the country. The country has developed Raast, a real-time payment system for instant digital transactions, and also built NADRA, a digital identity platform.
The central bank has also rolled out a new full digital banking license, allowing more players to act as banks that can take deposits from customers without having to have physical centers. Dbank has applied to become a digital retail bank in Pakistan.
“The perfect time to start a business like Dbank is because the key building blocks are now in place – Raast, the State Bank of Pakistan’s real-time payment system, backed by a seamless digital identity powered by NADRA. We have seen the multiplier effect that digital public infrastructure can have on the private sector’s ability to transition economies from cash to digital,” Jamali said in a statement.
Aidrus said Dbank plans to build a customer-centric digital bank in the Pan-Islamic world, starting with Pakistan.
Numerous investors including Tiger Global, Addition and Prosus Ventures have backed Pakistani startups over the past two years to boost the local ecosystem. The nation is also feeling the pressure of the global market slump. Airlift, one of Pakistan’s most famous startups, announced this recently Closure after financing crisis.
“Pakistan, the fifth most populous nation in the world, has a rapidly expanding middle class with increasingly sophisticated banking needs. This signals a unique opportunity to build a large, customer-centric bank for millions of people. Dbank is tackling this by taking a digital-native approach to democratizing banking and making a wide range of financial services friendly, transparent and therefore accessible to the entire nation. The team behind it is a unique combination of talented people and Sequoia Capital Southeast Asia is excited about the opportunity to become an early partner of Sequoia Southeast Asia,” added Sequoia Southeast Asia’s Surani in the statement.
Sequoia backs fintech Dbank in maiden Pakistan investment – TechCrunch Source link Sequoia backs fintech Dbank in maiden Pakistan investment – TechCrunch