News and Press Releases

Catalyst for Change

December 8, 2014

Pakistan is emerging as the third most attractive country in Asia Pacific for investment funds looking for options in internet business companies in frontier markets. China and India are perceived to be in a different league altogether.

The pace of growth of internet business firms can reach double digits in the next calendar year as telecom companies receive ordered equipment to successfully streamline their systems to leverage 3/4G licences, and as smart phones become more affordable.

It takes about a year for the full impact of advanced telecom technologies to play out in the society, but it might take a little longer in Pakistan, said a government source.

“The claimant of ‘change’ — the PTI — through its confrontational politics actually delayed ‘change in the making’ by months at least. The benefits of the government’s IT communication sector initiatives is not expected to become visible before July 2015,” he quipped. The 3/4G licences were auctioned this April.

The thrust of Pakistani techies to explore new frontiers has coincided with the tight job market, nudging graduates and entrepreneurs to consider innovative business strategies as opposed to finding a place in the conventional economy.

“The introduction of 3/4G technology and the penetration of smart phones have opened up new vistas for technology companies aspiring to partake in the transformation towards a digitised lifestyle,” a technocrat currently associated with the government said.

“For us, the discovery of Pakistan has proven to be fascinating. It is by far the most attractive country in the region, excluding China and India. The difficult neighborhood and the challenging law and order situation have coloured its image and clouded the positive factors that can attract investors interested in the frontier markets,” Koen Thijssen, the young visiting co-CEO of Asia Internet Holding — a joint venture between Rocket Internet and Qatar-based Ooredoo — told Dawn.

The ecosystem for IT companies in Pakistan is the most business-friendly in the region. It has zero taxes on IT exports till 2016 and allows 100pc repatriation of profits.....

The holding company intends to divert to Pakistan a sizeable portion of the 180m euros it has dedicated for the region over the next four years.

“We invest in ideas. Our business decisions, however, are based on data and market research and our knowledge of proven internet business models around the world,” Koen said. The $5bn, seven-year-old Rocket Internet employs 25,000 people across a network of companies operating in 100 countries. In Pakistan, it supports nine start-ups — including Jovago, Clickbus, Lamudi, Daraz, Carmudi and Foodpanda — and claims that many more are on the way.

He considers the size and composition of the population, growing size of the internet market, rising smart phone penetration, absence of competition and a pool of skilled English speaking young graduates as factors that work in favour of Pakistan.

“This gives you a base to build upon a solid company. Besides, the absence of Amazon, Flipkart and eBay in Pakistan offers great opportunity to get a foothold and enjoy the benefits of early entry in this huge and growing market. We hope to become market leaders in the field,” Koen said.

Officials in relevant ministries and departments sounded confident and disclosed facts on which their optimism is based. From IT fund to virtual university, there are in all 10 federal bodies, with sometimes overlapping mandates, serving the sector with a future.

Numerous private and public mentorship and IT incubator projects are functioning in different cities, with some engaged with global leaders like Google as well.

Asim Shahryar Husain, MD of Pakistan Software Export Board, argued that the ecosystem for IT companies is the most business-friendly in the region.

“Pakistan has zero taxes on IT exports till 2016, allows 100pc repatriation of profits, has a dedicated body to provide ease of business (PSEB), and has 12 IT parks and over 125,000 English-speaking IT professionals and graduates, and this pool is growing every year,” he told this writer over phone from Islamabad.

He added that the country currently has more than 2,000 IT companies, of which 120 are certified in IT quality standards like ISO 9001 and ISO 27001, while 23 are certified with Carnegie Mellon’s CMMi standard. And the quality of these companies and their services is constantly improving.

“Many start-ups are leveraging the domestic penetration of smart phones and hoping for exponential growth of their companies, in tandem with the intensification of Android technology,” said an expert while indicating the market’s potential.

“Pakistan is peculiar in the sense that mobile-commerce here grew faster than e-commerce. The accessibility to the facility to leverage internet has been identified as the key factor. For a business model to deliver, the matching of the need and technology are necessary but not sufficient. Accessibility and affordability are decisive,” commented another IT practitioner.

Published in Dawn, Economic & Business, December 8th , 2014

i2c Helps eCarteBlanche Improve International Payroll Options for Companies

eCarteBlanche is the first to roll out the next generation of i2c's global money distribution portal, allowing companies to simplify global employee payouts

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. – Dec. 3, 2014 – i2c, Inc., a global provider of card processing and emerging financial services solutions, today announced that eCarteBlanche, an innovative international prepaid card company, has rolled out the latest version of its global money distribution portal. eCarteBlanche's clients have already begun using the system to streamline and manage international payroll and payouts.

The cloud-based portal allows companies to move money instantly via prepaid cards, no matter where in the world the recipients are located. Disbursing funds in this manner is faster than traditional money transfer services and less costly and cumbersome than bank wire transfers. i2c implemented a number of enhancements for eCarteBlanche's disbursement portal, including a sophisticated user interface design and more robust reporting options.

“We strive to make international payouts as simple and painless as possible for our clients,” says Paul Goethals, chief executive of eCarteBlanche. “By working with capable technology partners like i2c, we have set the bar for usability within our industry. Our clients love the new site's simple design, flexible reporting options and improved compliance features.”
Stephan Koukis, senior vice president, Business Advisory Group at i2c, comments, “Delivering payments to numerous recipients in multiple countries is extremely tedious for most companies, large or small. eCarteBlanche has been working to take the pain out of this process, and we are thrilled to support their efforts by providing the latest global money distribution technology.”


Melissa Telli

Director, Marketing & Communications

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APNA Microfinance Bank Joins UPayments

APNA becomes the first Microfinance bank to sign UPayments, a USSD based mobile banking platform by Ufone – Pakistan’s leading cellular network. After signing major banks of the country, UPayments has now tapped into Microfinance Banking sector, consequently allowing APNA Bank customers to avail the convenient and user-friendly facility of M-Banking. With this option, APNA bank customers can utilize banking services without visiting bank branches.

Exploiting the advantage of this beneficial service, APNA Bank would be able to provide free local fund transfer, whereby two account holders of APNA bank can transfer funds with no cost. Via this technology, customers can also pay utility bills, Ufone prepaid and postpaid payments and IBFT, with more transactions to be added soon. The communication is real-time and session-based, hence completely secure and reliable. Another exciting highlight is that this facility can be used even from outside Pakistan. The usage of this service is absolutely free for the end user, even while roaming. Currently this facility supports basic transactions, with APNA bank planning to explore branchless banking options in near future.

Powered by IRIS, a multi-channel switch by TPS, UPayments is a secure platform that provides funds transfer and bill payment facilities. It has no restriction on the type of mobile used by the customer as USSD technology is available on all GSM mobile phones.
“APNA Bank seeks to improve facilities for its customers and provide easier access to banking. Rather than visiting branches, customers of APNA bank can now bank from the comfort of their homes and offices anytime they want.” - M. Saleem Shaikh, President and CEO – APNA Microfinance Bank

“UPayments is committed to make banking easier for people of all income groups. With APNA Bank we can serve a wider spectrum of customers with simpler and convenient mobile banking.” -Noman Azhar, Head MFS – Ufone

“Microfinance banks serve a very important segment of banking population and it is a good omen to see APNA Bank joining UPayments mobile banking platform. TPS aims at improving banking technology and we continue that trend for mobile banking in Pakistan.” Shahzad Shahid, CEO, TPS
TPS is a leading provider of payment and cards solutions worldwide. TPS enjoys over 80% market share in debit card industry of Pakistan including defacto national switch 1LINK and 7 of the top 10 banks. TPS has a global footprint serving a delighted customer base of over 132 banks, telecoms, central banks, payment processors and other financial institutions spread across 32 countries.
Apna Microfinance Bank specializes in providing financial services to less privileged areas and cottage industries. Through setting up of Small and Medium Enterprises, Apna Microfinance Bank empowers women and micro enterprises for self-sufficiency.
Ufone, the leader in innovation, is an Etisalat Group Company. The company employs more than 3,850 people and operates with a network of more than 380 franchises and 23 company-owned customer service centers along with a distribution network of 150,000 outlets nationwide.

Systems Limited Launches its Initial Public Offering

Karachi, Pakistan - December 2, 2014 - Pakistan’s premier software house and the leading provider of next-generation IT and technology-led BPO services, announced that the company has planned an Initial Public Offering on Dec 4, 2014 through book building process. Systems Limited received the approval from SECP for selling 13 million of its ordinary shares in a public offering and to be listed on the Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad stock exchanges.

The book building portion of the issue comprises of 9.75 million Ordinary Shares at a price band of PKR25.0 to PKR35.0 per share while the General Public portion comprises of 3.25 million Ordinary Shares to be offered at a price equal to the strike price determined through the book building process. With this listing, Systems Limited will add significant value to the stock exchanges.

Asif Peer, CEO and Managing Director, Systems Limited commented, “Systems Limited has an excellent track record and has delivered strong growth and profitability in the recent years. We believe that our people, experienced management team and our customers, make us well positioned to deliver sustainable future growth. This IPO represents a significant step in the further development and will enable the business to achieve its true potential.” Asif added, “Following the IPO, Systems Limited is expected to drive more foreign direct investment and create additional jobs”.

The General Public portion will be announced and made available separately after the book building.

AKD Securities Limited (AKDS) is acting as the Lead Manager and Book Runner for the initial public offering. The IPO will kick off from 9:00am to 5:00pm on Dec 4, 2014.

About Systems Limited

Systems Limited, founded in 1977 is the leading global Technology and Business Process Outsourcing service provider, delivering innovative business solutions and technology-led BPO services. With over 2,500 employees globally, our people help customers around the world maximize their IT investments and create specialized solutions that drive business results. These solutions leverage our deep technical skills, accelerators, frameworks and products, industry best practices, and domain expertise to ensure they achieve the business goals and creative competitive advantage for our customers.

Systems Limited brings industry insights and the business acumen focused on helping its customer achieve a high ROI, offers enterprise mission-critical software solutions, and brings a deep technology-agnostic skill set which remains unmatched in the industry. By delivering on hundreds of projects, we have developed industry-specific offerings and cross-industry offerings, plus a suite of tools and accelerators that enable our customers to realize business benefits father with increased efficiency and lower overall IT costs.

The winning combination of our people, best-in-class technology, innovative business practices and value-added global alliances help us team up with corporate and public sector to deliver value by producing a significant return on our clients’ investments.

Syed Faraz of TPS is Pakistan’s First Oracle Certified Master for 11g

Syed Faraz Ahmed from TPS becomes Pakistan’s first Oracle Certified Master (OCM) for version 11g. Currently the most dominant version of Oracle used in Pakistan, only 250+ professionals globally hold the master level certification which is the most advanced exam currently offered by Oracle. About 80% of Pakistan’s banking industry use Oracle 11g for their databases. Those still on version 10g will soon need to migrate as the product is scheduled to sunset soon.

Syed Faraz Ahmed is one of the five professionals from Pakistan that held Oracle Master Certification for version 10g. He upgraded to 11g after a grueling exam held in Bangkok, Thailand. A much difficult exam for upgrades compared to new applicants, about 100 scenarios were tested in 9 hours in real-time based on Server Configuration, Disaster Recovery, Warehouse Management and Performance Management. The test was conducted on three different servers (Production Server, Disaster Recovery Server and Grid-Control Server) with examiners generating and altering scenarios in real-time.

The 11g version is significantly different from its predecessor with a more comprehensive partitioning mechanism (such as interval partitioning), backup and recovery, encryption that even applies to table spaces and performance tools for migration testing. Oracle 12c, the latest version which is even more different than all previous versions, doesn’t have an OCM exam yet.

TPS provides Oracle Consultancy Services and is proud to have Syed Faraz Ahmed as a valuable asset in the field of Database Administration.

TPS is a leading provider of cards and payment solutions, serving a delighted customer base of over 120 banks, telecoms, central banks, payment processors, national switches and other institutions spread across 32 countries. TPS offers a combination of technical and business expertise in the area of card management, multi-channel issuing and acquiring, payment processing, alternate delivery channel management, bills payment, remittances, payment gateways and internet and mobile banking.