Bank Alfalah, one of the largest commercial banks in Pakistan, has made a significant entry into the venture capital ecosystem as it has signed an agreement to acquire a 7.2% equity stake worth PKR 140 million in QistBazaar, a fast-growing, Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) licensed Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) non-bank financial company (NBFCs) platform.
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The acquisition marks a breakthrough in the country’s fintech landscape, as it is the first time a commercial bank has taken an equity stake in a BNPL fintech. With this collaboration, the Bank aims to transform the BNPL landscape in Pakistan and pave the way for more collaboration between commercial banks and fintech.
In addition to the equity agreement, Bank Alfalah, and QistBazaar have signed an embedded financing agreement in Shariah Compliant mode for up to PKR 350 million, subject to terms and conditions. The Bank will incorporate digital financing product within the QistBazaar platform to offer embedded consumer durables financing on BNPL. This will target customers with limited or no access to formal credit. The partnership is expected to usher in a new era by enhancing the customer experience, improving financial inclusion, and providing innovative solutions.
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The signing ceremony was attended by senior leadership from the Bank, including Atif Bajwa, President and CEO; Aasim Wajid Jawad, Group Head of Strategy, Transformation, Customer Experience and Venture Capital Investments and Yahya Khan, Group Head of Digital Banking. From QistBazaar, Co-Founders Arif Lakhani and Karim Gilani, along with other executives, graced the event.
Atif Bajwa, President and CEO, said, ‘Bank Alfalah is committed to working with partners to address the needs of customers with limited access to credit and lower purchasing power. Our collaboration with QistBazaar through an equity investment and Islamic-embedded financing deal marks a significant step forward. This partnership aims to provide inventive financial solutions, creating new opportunities for growth and support for these underserved customers.’
Arif Lakhani, CEO QistBazaar, commented. ‘QistBazaar has been on a mission to democratise purchasing power, and in the first 18 months of our existence, over 17,000 Pakistanis that we have served, most of them do not have bank accounts, nor could they have purchased what they did without going through us. With Bank Alfalah coming in as equity and embedded financing partner and their guidance and experience, our work will become much easier.’
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The Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) facility is becoming increasingly popular among consumers due to its affordability, convenience and financial flexibility while offering a cost-effective solution to traditional means of purchasing in times of high-interest rates. Bank Alfalah currently operates a thriving BNPL product through its award-winning e-commerce marketplace platform, Alfa Mall. Through this collaboration, the Bank aims to expand into customer segments with thin or non-existent credit files.