Mashreq set to commence digital banking in Pakistan

The commencement of operations is announced roughly even months following the bank's NOC approval for digital banking in Pakistan

Karachi: Mashreq, a prominent financial institution in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, has announced its successful establishment in Pakistan and is poised to commence its digital banking operations within the country. It is one of the five banks that received no objection certificates (NOCs) from the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to establish digital banking in Pakistan.

A statement released by the bank emphasised the commitment to drive forward digitisation and financial inclusion in high-growth markets like Pakistan. The bank is particularly focused on sectors such as SMEs, payments, and inclusion. It aims to leverage its technologically adept infrastructure and digital orientation to empower customers, cater to evolving needs, provide seamless banking experiences, and align with the country’s vision of a digitally-led, financially comprehensive economy.

The announcement came after a high-level Mashreq delegation, including senior members of the executive committee visited Pakistan, along with independent board members Syed Naseer Hassan and Rashid Khan.

Fernando Morillo, Group Head of Retail Banking at Mashreq, expressed that the bank’s entry into Pakistan marks a transformative phase in its expansion strategy. “Our foray into Pakistan is a pivotal moment for Mashreq, marking a new chapter in our strategic expansion,” said Morillo. “We eagerly anticipate the opportunities to collaborate with local stakeholders and contribute towards a robust digital ecosystem that will transform the country’s financial landscape.

Notably, Mashreq already maintains a Center of Excellence (CoE) in Pakistan, focused on delivering a range of innovative products. With its established presence in the country, Mashreq anticipates building a productive partnership that will bring benefits to consumers, businesses, and the broader economy alike.

About Mashreq Bank

Mashreq, found as the Bank of Oman in 1967, is the oldest privately owned bank in the United Arab Emirates and one of the oldest banking institutions in the Middle East.  According to Forbes, its founder, Abdul Aziz Ghurair possesses a multibillion-dollar fortune. The bank is majority owned by the Ghurair family – one of the richest families in the Middle East – through two different investment firms.

Mashreq Bank’s digital bank offerings in the middle east include specialised banking solutions for startups and SMEs and calls itself the “Best Digital Bank” in the Middle East.

Mashreq spans 13 countries with 16 global offices. From corporate banking in Bahrain, Qatar, and India, to offering retail banking in Egypt, they also offer foreign exchange expertise in countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Nepal. Notably, full-service branches stand tall in New York, London, and Hong Kong. Beyond this, Mashreq excels in conventional and Islamic personal banking, investment services, and asset management.

SBP grants NOC to Mashreq Bank

In January of this year, the SBP issued NOCs to five applicants for establishing digital banks. Mashreq Bank was one of the successful applicants.

The central bank’s objectives regarding digital banks are clear: to promote financial inclusion and improve access to credit for unserved and underserved segments, affordability of digital financial services, new financial technologies and innovation, fostering a new set of customer experiences and developing the digital ecosystem.

The central bank evaluated 20 applicants on various parameters that included fitness, experience, business plans, IT strategies, cybersecurity measures, etc. After an exhaustive process lasting around 10 months, the central bank granted NOCs to five digital banks: EasyPaisa, KT Bank, Hugo Bank, Raqami, and Mashreq Bank.

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Mariam Umar Farooq
Mariam Umar Farooq
The author is a business journalist and a member of the staff. She can be reached at [email protected]


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