Dbank announced a $17.6 million seed raise co-led by Sequoia Capital Southeast Asia and Kleiner Perkins, another storied venture capital firm. Brazilian digital banking platform Nubank, US-based VC firm RTP Global, Rayn and local partner Askari Bank Ltd. also joined the seed round.
The round also includes participation from angel investors who have worked at companies such as Google, Goldman Sachs and Stripe.
Under the regime, the central bank may grant two types of licences: Digital Retail Bank (DRB) or Digital Full Bank (DFB) licence for conventional and Islamic banking.
Dbank is in the running to secure a DRB license. The competition for the license has been stiff with 20 applicants in the line, of which only five companies will be awarded a license this year by the regulator.
Besides Dbank, those reported to be in the race to secure a digital bank license include HBL, UBL, Bank Alfalah, JS Bank, South African digital retail bank TymeBank, JazzCash and Tajikistan’s Alif Bank.
According to a statement, Dbank plans to make formal financial services accessible, transparent, and friendly for everyone so that when financial needs arise, they can access capital without being exploited.
“Pakistan is home to around 6% of the world’s unbanked population with over 110 million adults (79%) currently unbanked according to a World Bank report, of which women make up 82%. This makes Pakistan the third largest unbanked country in the world after China and India,” Dbank said in a statement.
“This narrative has to change and that is only possible if we create access to financial products that are user-centric, incredibly simple and empowering. We want our users to be in control of their money and to make informed choices”, Tania Aidrus said, sharing her vision behind why they founded Dbank.
Digital banks would have a cost advantage, however, since all their services will be offered through digital channels and not the physical brick and mortar establishments, but in the absence of a big deposit base to tap and not many avenues for lending, digital banks face an uncertain future.
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