Pakistan's Dbank raises $17.6M SEED

FinTech Dbank has raised $17.6M in a SEED round to expand the reach of financial services in Pakistan, marking Sequoia's maiden investment in the region.

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Islamabad-based Dbank has closed a $17.6M SEED round co-led by Sequoia Capital Southeast Asia and Kleiner Perkins. The round also saw participation from Brazil’s neobank Nubank, Askari Bank, and Rayn. Founded by Tania Aidrus and Khurram Jamali, Dbank is a FinTech startup that will attempt to expand the reach of financial services in a “transparent and friendly” manner in Pakistan, taking on the informal credit system that tends to exploit those in need with exorbitant and unpredictable interest rates.

FinTech has been making great strides over the past few years and remained the hero industry across EVMs on H1 2022, as observed in our State of Startup Funding - H1 2022 Emerging Venture Markets Report. Late-bloom Pakistan has been marking itself on the map as an emerging FinTech geography recording over 2500% YoY growth in funding with 16 more deals in 2021. This year, sizable investments by alternative payment, crediting solutions, and financial wellness platforms including NayaPay, SadaPay, MyTM, and Abhi made the industry the second-most funded and transacted in Pakistan over H1. As evident in this round, Pakistan continues to boast of one of the highest international investor participation across MENAPT with big names like Sequoia Capital, Y Combinator, and Tiger Global backing tech companies in the country.


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Nearly half of the population of Pakistan, home to over 220M people, currently don’t have bank accounts. State Bank of Pakistan, the country’s central bank, has aggressively explored opportunities in recent years to modernize the nation’s payments infrastructure to increase financial inclusion in the country. The country has developed Raast, a real-time payments system, for instant digital transactions and also built NADRA, a digital identity platform. “We want our users to be in control of their money and to make informed choices,” Tania Aidrus told TechCrunch. .

The Central Bank has also introduced a new full banking digital license, allowing more players to serve as banks that can take deposits from customers without having to have physical centers. Dbank has applied to become a digital retail bank in Pakistan. Khalid Jamali, co-founder D-bank, commented, “The reason it is the perfect time to launch a venture like Dbank is that the key building blocks are now in place – Raast, the real-time payment system by State Bank of Pakistan supported by seamless digital identity through NADRA. We have seen the multiplier effect that digital public infrastructure can have on the private sectors’ ability to help move economies from cash to digital.” 

Dbank plans to eventually build a customer-centric digital bank in the Pan-Islamic world beginning with Pakistan. Sequoia Southeast Asia’s Surani added in the statement: “Pakistan, the world’s fifth most populous nation, has a fast-growing middle class with increasingly sophisticated banking needs. This signals a unique opportunity to build a large, customer-centric bank for millions of people. Dbank is addressing this by taking a digital-native approach to democratize banking and make a broad set of financial services friendly, transparent and thus, accessible for the entire nation. The team behind this is a unique combination of talented people and Sequoia Capital Southeast Asia is truly delighted to have the opportunity to be early partners with them.” 

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