The move came in the wake of the Hangzhou-based e-tailer’s US$ 2 billion capital injection into Lazada, one of the leading e-commerce upstarts in Southeast Asia. Alibaba is speeding up its expedition in the Asian ecommerce market.
And just one week earlier, Alibaba’s financial affiliate Ant Financial forayed into the Pakistani market, investing $184.5 million for a 45% stake in Telenor Microfinance Bank to help develop the latter’s mobile payment and digital financial services.
Jack Ma, one of the founders of Alibaba, expressed his deep interest in investing in Pakistan as early as in January 2017, when he met Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos. Four months later in May, Alibaba signed an MOU with the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan to support local e-commerce SMEs.
In Pakistan, the e-commerce market is expected to grow to $ 1 billion by 2020, according to a report by Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA). The country has some 30 million active internet users and its youth is making the country the fastest growing market for retailing, according to Bloomberg.
Daraz, founded in 2012, is the country’s largest online shopping mall, according to PTA. At home, Daraz is competing with local rivals including homeshopping.pk and Yayvo. In 2015, the startup secured a $55.6 million investment from CDC Group and Asia Pacific Internet Group, to fuel its operation in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar. Apart from the three countries, it also provides shopping services in Sri Lanka and Nepal.
This Monday, the Chinese tech giant added another $ 2 billion to SE Asia’s online shopping platform Lazada, raising its total funding in the startup to a whopping $ 4 billion. Both Lazada and Daraz were incubated by Rocket Internet, a Berlin-based incubator.