Mashreq plans to invest in rural infrastructure, including microfinance institutions, in Pakistan. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Mashreq Bank has acquired a banking licence to commence operations in Pakistan, the lender said on Monday.

The licence, issued by the State Bank of Pakistan under the Digital Regulatory Framework, will allow the bank to begin digital banking operations in the country and employ a team of bankers and engineers with a multicultural experience in the sector.

“Mashreq intends to bring their digital expertise to Pakistan and further the interests of the SBP in the digital arena,” said the bank.

Ahmed Abdelaal, Group CEO, Mashreq, said: “I strongly believe we can capitalise on Pakistan’s existing financial infrastructure to enhance the banking experience by delivering customer-centric solutions through our products and services.”

Pakistan has the third largest unbanked adult population globally, with about 100 million adults without a bank account and 82 per cent of women without any access to financial services. The bank plans to contribute to Pakistan’s economic activity by increasing lending to small businesses and providing consumer loans to low-income households, especially women entrepreneurs and the youth.

Mashreq also plans to invest in rural infrastructure, including microfinance institutions.

Fernando Morillo, Group Head of Retail Bank, Mashreq, said, “I believe that Mashreq’s vision is in tandem with the country’s Digital Pakistan Initiative. At Mashreq, we applaud the efforts of SBP in laying down the foundation that has catalysed the digitisation of the country’s banking sector, transforming it as a whole.”