Turkish fintech giant to acquire ‘complete ownership’ of Pakistan’s SadaPay in potential deal — insiders

Turkish fintech giant to acquire ‘complete ownership’ of Pakistan’s SadaPay in potential deal — insiders
An undated file photo of SadaPay's numberless debit card. (Photo courtesy: SadaPay/Facebook)
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Updated 19 February 2024
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Turkish fintech giant to acquire ‘complete ownership’ of Pakistan’s SadaPay in potential deal — insiders

Turkish fintech giant to acquire ‘complete ownership’ of Pakistan’s SadaPay in potential deal — insiders
  • SadaPay, valued at $43-64 million in April 2022, is likely to attract up to $50 million as part of the deal
  • Turkiye’s Papara will invest $10 million in Pakistan to further increase operational capacity of SadaPay

KARACHI: Papara, a financial technology giant headquartered in Turkiye’s Ankara, is currently in talks with SadaPay, a Pakistan-based financial technology company, for a potential merger deal worth nearly $50 million, according to people familiar with the developments.

Papara, an electronic money and payment services organization, is the first non-banking entity to issue a prepaid card with Mastercard logo in Turkiye. Launched in 2016, the fintech has 18 million users and provides digital wallet services, allowing users to make payments, transfer money, and perform various financial transactions through their mobile phones or online platforms.

SadaPay, on the other hand, is regulated by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of SadaPay Technologies Limited, registered with the Dubai International Financial Center.

The deal for “complete ownership” of SadaPay by the Turkish fintech giant is in advanced stages and if finalized, it would pave the way for an immediate investment of around $10 million in Pakistan, said sources familiar with the developments.

Reached for comment, Brandon Timinsky, CEO of SadaPay, told Arab News that he was “not able to provide any official statement at this time.”

Other key officials of SadaPay also declined to comment, but a fintech source called the possible merger a “good development” for Pakistan.

“This is a good development for Pakistan’s startup ecosystem,” the official said, requesting anonymity. “This deal will pave the way for further investment of around $10 million in addition to actual value of the deal to boost operational capacity [of SadaPay].”

He said the deal would likely be in the range of $30-50 million, under which “100 percent ownership” of SadaPay would be transferred to the Turkish firm.

Dealroom.com, a global provider of data and intelligence on startups and tech ecosystems, valued SadaPay at $43-64 million in April 2022.

The final details of the deal are expected to be made public after a regulatory approval from the Pakistani central bank.


Pakistani pacer Mohammad Amir sets sights on T20 World Cup after comeback

Pakistani pacer Mohammad Amir sets sights on T20 World Cup after comeback
Updated 7 sec ago
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Pakistani pacer Mohammad Amir sets sights on T20 World Cup after comeback

Pakistani pacer Mohammad Amir sets sights on T20 World Cup after comeback
  • Amir played his first T20 international match for Pakistan on Thursday after a nearly four-year hiatus
  • Pacer says he feels his body is fitter compared to 2019 when he last played for Pakistan in a World Cup 

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani fast bowler Mohammad Amir said this week he has set his sights on the upcoming T20 World Cup 2024, as he gears up to mark his return to international cricket after a nearly four-year hiatus. 

The 32-year-old pacer played his first match on Thursday against New Zealand in Rawalpindi but did not bowl a single delivery as rain suspended play during the first over of the match. 

Amir, one of Pakistan’s most prolific fast bowlers, retired in December 2020 after being dropped from the side. He changed his mind last month and decided to restart his career, which had also been stalled by a spot-fixing ban in 2010.

“The way the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) management brought me back, it is for a short-term goal, the [T20] World Cup,” Amir told PCB Digital in an interview on Friday. “And that is the biggest goal.”

The left-arm pacer pointed out that Pakistan had played in the semifinal of the T20 World Cup 2021 and competed in the final of the T20 World Cup in 2022. However, it had failed to “cross the line” and become world champions on both occasions. 

“If that happens [Pakistan win the World Cup] it would be a huge achievement for me, to be a part of that team,” he said. 

Amir said he feels he is much fitter compared to 2019 when he last represented Pakistan in a World Cup tournament.

“See, you cannot express yourself properly in the ground until you’re fit,” he said. “So I feel the way my body feels fresh right now, I can chip in more and prove beneficial to the team via my performance.”

The pacer credited his wife and children for helping him stay positive. 

“She makes sure that all my focus is on cricket,” he said. “I think that always gives me energy and helps me to face whatever I have to.”

Pakistan face New Zealand in the second T20 fixture of the five-match series in Rawalpindi today, Saturday. The two sides will lock horns in Rawalpindi on April 21 before meeting for the remaining two fixtures in Lahore on April 25 and 27. 

Teams:

Pakistan: Babar Azam (captain), Usman Khan, Abrar Ahmed, Iftikhar Ahmed, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Amir, Muhammad Irfan Khan, Naseem Shah, Saim Ayub, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Shah Afridi

New Zealand: Michael Bracewell (captain), Mark Chapman, Josh Clarkson, Jacob Duffy, Dean Foxcroft, Ben Lister, Jimmy Neesham, Tim Robinson, Ben Sears, Tim Seifert, Ish Sodhi


Pakistan’s finmin discusses energy, tax reforms with senior World Bank official

Pakistan’s finmin discusses energy, tax reforms with senior World Bank official
Updated 20 min 43 sec ago
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Pakistan’s finmin discusses energy, tax reforms with senior World Bank official

Pakistan’s finmin discusses energy, tax reforms with senior World Bank official
  • Pakistan has vowed to broaden its tax base, reform energy sector and privatize loss-making state-owned entities
  • Pakistan’s finance minister is in Washington to attend spring meetings by the International Monetary Fund, World Bank

KARACHI: Pakistan’s Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb underlined the government’s resolve to carry out reforms in the energy and tax sectors in his meeting with a senior World Bank official this week, the finance ministry said on Saturday, as Islamabad grapples with an economic crisis amid surging inflation and low foreign exchange reserves. 

Reeling from a macroeconomic crisis, Pakistan has assured international financial institutions and bilateral partners it would take concrete measures to broaden its tax base, carry out reforms in the energy sector and overhaul loss-making state-owned enterprises (SOEs). 

Aurangzeb has been in Washington since last week to participate in spring meetings organized by the IMF and World Bank. His tour is an important one for the South Asian country as Pakistan’s ongoing nine-month, $3 billion loan program with the International Monetary Fund designed to tackle its balance-of-payments crisis, expires this month.

Aurangzeb met Martin Raiser, the World Bank’s regional vice president for South Asia, on Friday to discuss the government’s economic reforms. 

“Underlined the reform thrust of the government in the areas of energy, tax reforms and SOEs,” the finance ministry said. “Informed that government was pursuing short and long-term goals in these sectors.”

Aurangzeb said the World Bank’s focus on climate change, digitalization and human development aligns with Islamabad’s priorities, highlighting the government’s vision to realize the country’s true potential for economic growth. 

“Agreed on the need for reforms in the agriculture sector, water management and waste-water treatment,” the ministry said. 

Aurangzeb met World Bank’s President Ajay Banga on Tuesday during which he spoke about the government’s reforms in tax and energy sectors and highlighted Pakistan’s progress on privatization of government entities. 

In an interview on Monday, the Pakistani finance minister had said Islamabad would seek a fresh three-year IMF program, adding that the government plans to continue with necessary policy reforms to rein in deficits, build up reserves and manage soaring debt servicing.

In a separate statement, the finance ministry said Aurangzeb met China’s Finance Minister Lan Fo’an on Friday. During the exchange, the Pakistani finance chief thanked his Chinese counterpart for Beijing’s regular rollovers which helped plug Pakistan’s external financing gaps. 

“Informed that Pakistan was entering into a larger and extended program with IMF and looked forward to the support of China,” the ministry said, adding that he highlighted the government’s economic reforms in various sectors during his meeting with the Chinese official. 


Pakistan to train 1 million youth annually to export skilled human resource to Gulf countries

Pakistan to train 1 million youth annually to export skilled human resource to Gulf countries
Updated 20 April 2024
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Pakistan to train 1 million youth annually to export skilled human resource to Gulf countries

Pakistan to train 1 million youth annually to export skilled human resource to Gulf countries
  • Islamabad is planning to roll out a new education policy next month, with a focus on vocational training and out-of-school children
  • Educationists, however, say the real challenge for the government is to ensure implementation of the policy, focus on teacher training

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s government is working on a new education policy to impart technical skills to one million youth annually to export trained human resource to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries, an official said on Friday.

The cash-strapped South Asian nation of 241 million has been working on a holistic national education policy to cover technical training for the youth by enrolling over 2.5 million out-of-school children.

The Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC), a federal body led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to attract investment from foreign and domestic sources, has given specific targets to the education ministry to finalize a comprehensive policy to improve the education sector.

“This new policy aims to impart vocational training to at least one million youth per annum to export skilled workforce to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries,” Rana Mujtaba, a spokesperson for the Pakistani ministry of education and professional training, told Arab News.

“It will be rolled out in May.”

There are around 9 million overseas Pakistanis living and working in different countries, including 2.8 million in Saudi Arabia, who remit around $30 billion back home annually to support the country’s fragile economy.

“Majority of our overseas workforce is unskilled labor. Therefore, the government is now focusing on enhancing vocational capacity of the youth,” Mujtaba said.

In the National Education Policy 2017-2025, Pakistan aimed to raise its literacy rate from the existing 60 percent to 90 percent by 2025, narrow down the gender gaps, reduce rural and urban imbalance, improve quality of education, promote technical and vocational education with skill development programs, and ensure good governance. But all this has yet to be achieved.

Mujtaba said Pakistan’s vocational training institutes already had a “strong affiliation” with Saudi Arabia, where all training certificates were accepted.

“The SIFC that is chaired by the PM has given a general direction to the ministry to work on a new education policy to improve the sector’s performance,” he said.

The spokesperson dispelled the notion that the education ministry was working on the new education policy without taking provincial governments on-board, since education has primarily been a provincial subject in the South Asian country.

“The federal government is in fact supporting the provinces in improving the education sector. All provincial ministers and education secretaries are on-board as the federal ministry has sought inputs from all of them,” he said.

“This will be a holistic policy that will also address the issue of out-of-school children, improving the higher education’s standards, domestic and foreign scholarships for the students.”

Educationists and public policy experts said the government had already devised numerous policies and produced documents to improve the education sector, but it would lack in implementation of these plans.

“The silver lining in the new policy is that the government is for the first time focusing on out-of-school children, but there needs to be an effective mechanism in place with clear timelines to address this issue,” Taimur Bandey, an educationist, told Arab News.

“The government needs to allocate its resources for teachers training and upgrade libraries and laboratories in the institutions to improve the education standards.” 


Pakistani PM orders authorities to expedite anti-smuggling operations amid economic crisis

Pakistani PM orders authorities to expedite anti-smuggling operations amid economic crisis
Updated 20 April 2024
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Pakistani PM orders authorities to expedite anti-smuggling operations amid economic crisis

Pakistani PM orders authorities to expedite anti-smuggling operations amid economic crisis
  • PM Sharif chairs high-level meeting to review progress on countrywide anti-smuggling measures
  • Orders effective monitoring of the Afghan transit trade, action against smugglers and hoarders

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif ordered law enforcement agencies to expedite Pakistan’s nationwide anti-smuggling campaign, state-run media reported this week, as Islamabad tries to navigate a tricky path to economic recovery. 

Pakistan’s caretaker administration announced a countrywide crackdown against smuggling and black marketing in September 2023 as the South Asian country reeled from an economic crisis that has seen its foreign exchange reserves plummet, currency devaluate sharply and inflation rise to record highs. 

PM Sharif’s government has vowed to continue the country’s anti-smuggling operations to ensure Pakistan makes steady economic progress. 

“Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif has directed the law enforcement agencies to expedite the countrywide anti-smuggling campaign,” the state-run Radio Pakistan reported on Friday. It said the development took place during a high-level meeting chaired by Sharif in Islamabad on Friday to review the anti-smuggling operations in the country. 

In October last year, Pakistan imposed a 10 percent processing fee on several items imported from Afghanistan under a transit trade agreement to stop the illegal entry of goods from the country. In the meeting on Friday, Sharif ordered authorities to ensure effective monitoring of the Afghan transit trade items to prevent their smuggling. 

“He directed the customs authorities to conduct a third-party audit of the system that monitors Afghan transit trade,” state-run media said. 

Authorities told Sharif during the meeting that a list of smugglers, hoarders and their facilitators has been prepared and provided to law enforcement agencies and provinces. 

The Pakistani prime minister appreciated law enforcement agencies for taking effective action against smuggling and ordered authorities to enhance cooperation to crack down on the illegal activities. 


Pakistan urges climate change collaboration with UAE after record rains hit Gulf nation

Pakistan urges climate change collaboration with UAE after record rains hit Gulf nation
Updated 19 April 2024
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Pakistan urges climate change collaboration with UAE after record rains hit Gulf nation

Pakistan urges climate change collaboration with UAE after record rains hit Gulf nation
  • The storm first hit Oman over the weekend, before pounding the UAE on Tuesday with its heaviest rains in 75 years
  • PM Shehbaz Sharif telephoned the UAE president, called for collective actions after rains kill over 70 people in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Friday telephoned United Arab Emirates (UAE) President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan and urged collaboration between the two countries to tackle impacts of climate change, Pakistani state media reported, days record-breaking rains hit the Gulf nation.

The United Arab Emirates was still grappling on Friday with the aftermath of a record-breaking storm this week, with the main road connecting Dubai, the most populous emirate, with Abu Dhabi partially closed for traffic.

The storm first hit Oman over the weekend, killing at least 20 people, before pounding the UAE on Tuesday with its heaviest rains in 75 years of records. Scientists blame increasingly common extreme weather events, such as the rains in UAE and Oman, on human-led global warming.

During the telephonic conversation, Sharif lauded the UAE president for his “outstanding leadership qualities” and strong commitment to ensure the welfare of the Emirati people, the state-run APP news agency reported.

“The prime minister said that Pakistan had also witnessed heavy rains in recent days, resulting in loss of many precious lives,” the report read.

“He called for collective actions to combat the challenge of climate change and suggested that both countries strengthen their collaboration in the field.”

Pakistan has been prone to natural disasters and consistently ranks among one of the most adversely affected countries due to the effects of climate change. Torrential rains have killed more than 70 people in the South Asian country this month, according to authorities.

The UAE president appreciated the prime minister’s good wishes and reciprocated the warm sentiments for the people affected from rains and flooding in Pakistan, according to the APP report.

“Both leaders reaffirmed their commitment to enhance bilateral cooperation in multifaceted areas,” it added.