The licence will allow HugoBank to provide a range of digital banking services to unbanked citizens of Pakistan, including an online account, money transfers and bill payments
HugoBank is preparing to launch in Pakistan after receiving clearance to do so from the country’s central bank.
The digital bank, a joint venture that includes Singapore’s Atlas Consolidated, owner of the savings app Hugosave, received a no-objection certificate (NOC)— the principal stage in the digital banking licencing process—from the State Bank of Pakistan.
The licence will allow HugoBank to provide a range of digital banking services to citizens of Pakistan, including an online account, money transfers and bill payments.
Pakistan has the world’s fifth largest population and could become one of the world’s biggest economies by 2075 due to rapid population growth.
But more than half of its 220m population is currently unbanked.
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 aims to drive financial education and offer affordable and accessible products and services.
Aside from HugoBank, Pakistan’s central bank also granted NOCs to four other financial institutions, out of 20 applications.
David Fergusson, chief executive officer of Atlas Consolidated, commented: “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.”
HugoBank plans to utilise other consortium members, The Getz Group and Muller & Phipps, to reach unbanked customers.
Kamran Nishat, chief executive officer 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.”