After digital financial services, could startup acceleration be the new passion of Pakistani telcos?

Telenor Velocity is an accelerator that is hoping to help galvanise the telco into diversifying at a time when their original business is in freefall

The tech scene in Pakistan might seem like it is currently at a standstill but don’t be fooled. While investment may be dwindling, efforts of tech-driven and innovation oriented individuals to continue disrupting the technology landscape have not stopped. If you don’t believe us, just sit at a chai dhaba for a few hours and you will most probably overhear someone discussing what sounds a lot like a promising startup idea at a nearby table. 

However, the tech landscape has definitely changed, and even taken quite a hit in the last two years. But with trying times comes innovation. This is perhaps why even telcos are reconsidering their role in the larger scheme of things, thinking beyond mobile operation services and network provision. 

The most glaring example of this would be the rising interest of telecom operators in the startup space. And this is not a novel occurrence. A decade and a half ago, most telcos in the country were hyper-focused on tapping into digital financing services, the fruits of which are evident in Telenor’s EasyPaisa and Jazz’s Jazzcash. Now, the time to diversify has arrived once again, and the cool new thing for telcos to get into are accelerators. With the same two companies that were able to crack online digital wallets are the ones with accelerators. Telenor launched its accelerator Velocity in 2016. Soon after, Jazz followed suit by launching xlr8 in 2017. 

But why are these telcos interested in accelerating startups? 

Profit explores.

 

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Nisma Riaz
Nisma Riaz
Nisma Riaz is a business journalist at Profit. She covers tech, retail and marketing and can be reached at [email protected] or https://twitter.com/nisma_riaz

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