PostEx acquires Call Courier to expand its logistics network, awaits NBFC license

The logistics and fintech player is bidding on the acquisition to scale its eCommerce customer base

Pakistan’s logistics and fintech company, PostEx, has announced the acquisition of Call Courier, a competing eCommerce logistics solution provider, for an undisclosed amount. 

PostEx operates a hybrid of receivables factoring solution and courier service that pays invoice values upfront to eCommerce companies offering Cash on Delivery (COD) as one of their modes of payment. Call Courier, on the other hand, is one of the country’s largest eCommerce COD logistics provider. 

The announcement comes as the economic situation takes a downturn, leaving businesses in a situation of disarray. PostEx’s competitor Trax Logistics recently laid-off staff because of the dip in order volumes and rising costs.

PostEx itself has also laid off staff, which company founder Muhammad Omer says was an action taken against 20 people because of alleged organised theft at the company. However, Profit has an indication that the number of layoffs may be higher than this.

The acquisition is likely to create synergies for PostEx which it aims to leverage for expanding its receivable factoring business, as well as capturing the market on the back of a vast logistics network, but could be faced with a dip in volumes because of the macroeconomic situation.

PostEx background

The Lahore-based startup announced raising $8.6 million in seed funding last year. This was the second largest seed round in the country at that time. The startup further says it has raised an amount not announced yet. 

In Pakistan, cash-based payments form the overwhelming majority of the economic transactions which creates liquidity problems for eCommerce businesses because of the long cash recovery cycles for cash-on-delivery orders. Inefficient logistic infrastructure creates last-mile delivery challenges which lead to high cancellations for merchants. 

Founded in 2019 by Omer Khan, Saad Mahmood, Babar Razzaq, and Adil Naseem, PostEx’s fintech-first platform addresses both challenges by providing upfront payments on cash on delivery orders, complemented by an in-house logistics fleet for eCommerce businesses, thereby helping businesses grow via easy and instant access to cash and liquidity and seamless delivery experience. 

As per Omer Khan, CEO of PostEx, “We offer an embedded solution to eCommerce players who  otherwise have to rely on conventional courier services that approximately complete the whole process from picking up the parcel to paying the proceeds to the vendor in 15 to 20 days.”

The founder further claimed to have more than 8,000 eCommerce platforms onboard and a combined (PostEx + Call Courier) volume of 1.3 million COD deliveries a month, which makes them bigger than TCS in COD deliveries. 

Meanwhile, Swyft Logistics also claims it has reached a scale of 60,000 COD deliveries daily, which makes Swyft also bigger than TCS. As per sources, TCS delivers about 1 million COD orders per month, which comes down to about 33,000 orders per day.

PostEx further claims that it has achieved a disbursement scale of around $15 million in monthly financing. The amount seems unusually high since even some leading digital finance operators don’t clock in such numbers. Case in point, Jazz Cash had a closing portfolio for digital lending of around Rs2 billion while total loan disbursements grossed up to Rs10-12 billion in 2021.

This equates to annual lending of $60 million and monthly disbursements of $5 million if the exchange rate is considered to be Rs200 over the period. 

On top of it, the founder also told Profit that the default rate was less than 1% as the lending is completely collateralized against the underlying asset which in this case are the parcels. “The only NPLs we incur are due to lost parcels.” He reiterated.

Acquisition 

Call Courier, as per the founder, is the third largest eCommerce COD logistics provider in the country with more than 40,000 deliveries completed daily. PostEx is aiming to scale its logistics operation through the recent acquisition. 

Following the acquisition, Call Couriers CEO Jawad Mirza is going to head the logistics business of PostEx, while also occupying a seat on the PostEx board of directors. 

As per the founder, the clientele of Call Courier would help them attract customers for each individual service (logistics and financing) rather than just going for the embedded product (COD financing + last mile logistics). 

Further, PostEx is relying on leveraging the eCommerce vendor data obtained after the merger to enhance its credit scoring process. The fintech player evaluates the customers on multiple parameters before extending credit. These include; credit history, parcel return ratio and number of transactions. 

Growth

While the company offers multiple products, lending remains the primary cash driver. As per the founder, “We charge around 3.5% to 4% from vendors and given the fact that the business has an extremely short cash cycle, we are able to turnover our financing capital 7 to 8 times a month. Therefore, our lending can generate monthly returns between 20% to 30%.” 

Yet, the scalability of this business is restricted due to the fact that it is totally equity financed. However, the founder claims to have obtained a credit line of Rs1 Billion from a financing institution which can be deployed for revenue-based financing once the NBFC license is received from SECP. 

Founder Omer Khan says that the company has only received NOC to apply for an NBFC license up till now. However, according to our sources, the SECP is reluctant to issue new licenses because of the hue and cry around the predatory nano lending apps.

The SECP is also weighing if the market has room for so many NBFC players, and has around 40 applications pending approval for the license. 

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Ahtasam Ahmad
The author works as a Sector Analyst at Profit and can be reached at [email protected]

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