Wednesday, 29 March 2023

Singapore-based consortium led by fintech firm Atlas Consolidated takes major step towards digital banking licence in Pakistan

5 min read

Singapore, 17 January 2023 – A consortium led by Singapore’s Atlas Consolidated Pte Ltd, which owns and operates the fast-growing WealthcareR and savings app Hugosave, is one of five successful applicants formally granted a No-Objection Certificate (NOC)1 by the State Bank of Pakistan. HugoBank Pakistan Consortium (HugoBank) is a joint venture between The Getz Group, Atlas Consolidated and Muller & Phipps.

David Fergusson, CEO of Atlas Consolidated, said, "From over 20 applicants, our winning proposition was to drive financial inclusion and improve the lives of millions of people in Pakistan. This is the reason why Hugo exists – to help individuals from every level of society establish and build their financial journeys.”

Ray Simkins, President of The Getz Group said "We are extremely honoured that the State Bank of Pakistan has conferred this trust in the consortium, for the systemically important role of expanding financial inclusion broadly across Pakistan. For many in Pakistan, that starts with opening a bank account."

More than half (53%) of Pakistan’s population of 220 million is unbanked2. The State Bank of Pakistan attributes this to the “lack of awareness of financial products, and a lack of basic money and financial management skills”. HugoBank will help drive financial education, offer products and services at price points that are accessible to anyone, and contribute to an increase in bank account penetration to 85% within 5 years.

The digital banking licence will allow HugoBank to address these challenges and provide a range of digital banking services to financially underserved customers in Pakistan. These include online account opening, fund transfer, bill payments, consumer credit products, P2P payments and other financial transactions. HugoBank plans to leverage its cutting-edge technology and innovative products to provide convenient and secure banking services to customers in Pakistan.

Kamran Nishat, CEO of Muller & Phipps Pakistan, said, "We have been present in Pakistan for over a century, and this is a fundamentally important development for us as a group. Consumers in Pakistan are familiar with our pharmaceutical, distribution, and courier businesses. We are extremely excited to add banking to this mix."

The HugoBank consortium will lead with a payments and account based solution, focusing on dramatically increasing bank account penetration in Pakistan. HugoBank will utilise The Getz Group's different platforms in Pakistan to reach the consumer; whether via Getz Pharma, or Muller & Phipps, The Getz Group touches around 200 million consumers in Pakistan. Operationally, HugoBank will leverage Atlas Consolidated’s Hugo platforms (Hugosave and Hugoserve) to provide state-of-the-art digital banking services to Pakistan.

Herston Powers, Co-Founder of 1982 Ventures, an early financial backer of Atlas said, "We have watched Atlas develop with pride. We have watched the team gel together, the product develop, the tech infrastructure surpass competition, and the company exceed our hopes. This latest licence and the opportunity it holds is a major leap forward."

HugoBank is currently in the process of setting up operations in Pakistan, and will provide updates on its plans to launch its digital banking and WealthcareR services in due course.

 

Re-disseminated by The Asian Banker

 

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