NayaPay, a Pakistan-based fintech platform, said Thursday it has raised $13 million in one of the largest seed rounds in South Asia.

Bringing together a diverse mix of leading global institutional and angel investors, the round was led by Zayn Capital, global fund manager MSA Novo and early-stage VC Graph Ventures from Silicon Valley, NayaPay said in a statement.

Singapore-based Saison Capital, Waleed Saigol’s Maple Leaf Capital and Warren Hogarth, Chief Executive Officer of Empower Finance, also participated in the round, alongside a major investment from the sponsors of the Lakson Group – a Pakistani conglomerate with interests in media, telecom, industrials, financial services as well as controlling stake in Colgate-Palmolive Pakistan and McDonalds Pakistan.

“NayaPay is empowering young Pakistani adults starting their financial journey, from students stepping into adulthood to freelancers and entrepreneurs taking an active role in managing their finances. In many senses, it’s a coming-of-age moment for many and our goal is to continue to innovate and build functionality to become a part of their daily lives, for the rest of their lives,” said NayaPay Chief Executive Officer and Founder Danish A. Lakhani.

“Micro, small and medium businesses make up 90 percent of the merchant-base in Pakistan and yet they are underserved when it comes to access to basic financial services. NayaPay Arc will provide universal payments acceptance and a range of business financial management tools to empower entrepreneurs and small business owners. The tools are intended to give business owners the visibility of their cash flows, pay suppliers and grow sales. Our goal is to enable them to focus on growth while we take care of the rest. By helping small businesses harness the power of technology, we believe we can transform the Pakistani economy,” he said.

“Customer trust is a key pillar of any platform’s success. At NayaPay, we are consumed by our obsession to simplify the lives of both consumers and merchants with our app and NayaPay Arc while supporting our customers with robust and scalable technology and fanatic customer service. We are also partnering with leading banks to provide additional value and convenience to our mutual customers, eventually leading to a full digital banking experience,” he added.

NayaPay claimed itself as the first fintech of its kind in Pakistan having recently secured the first E-Money Institution license from the central bank, State Bank of Pakistan. It is on a mission to make financial services simpler and accessible to millions of Pakistani users. It aims to be at the forefront in the digitization of Pakistan with its two-sided platform for the underbanked.

NayaPay said Pakistan presents a significant market opportunity for NayaPay, where over 50 million adults are unbanked and only 33 percent of women have a bank account.

With 70 percent of the population under 35 years old, it said there is a significant mobile-first generation. It also noted almost $4 trillion payments are made each year but only 1 percent of these are made digitally currently.

On the merchant side, it said the majority of small and midsize businesses (SMBs) in Pakistan are unregistered, have traditionally dealt primarily in cash, and have very limited access to business banking.

According to the statement, NayaPay has launched its chat-led super app targeted primarily at students and freelancers; and is building a software as a service (SaaS) based platform called NayaPay Arc offering universal payment acceptance and financial management tools for SMBs.

It said its platform strategy will harness the network effects between consumers and merchants, as seen in platforms such as Square Cash/Square, WeChat Pay, AliPay and Venmo in their native markets.

“We are very bullish on fintech in Pakistan. While just beginning to emerge, Pakistani fintechs have the advantage of learning from peers and placing better informed strategic bets. We were impressed by the completeness of the vision of the founding team at NayaPay, and their differentiated platform-based strategy– first focused on servicing the needs of underbanked consumers and SMBs with specific use cases and building out from there. With a proven ability to execute on the ground, the founder has an impressive track record of building and scaling businesses in Pakistan, including the country’s largest fiber broadband service (StormFiber),” Faisal Aftab, Managing Partner and Co-Founder at Zayn Capital Frontier.

Omar Siddiqui, General Partner at Graph Ventures added :“We are excited to partner with Danish and the NayaPay team as they scale their leading digital payments platform for consumers and merchants in Pakistan. We have been early-stage investors in 300+ companies over the past decade in the United States, Southeast Asia, and Latin America, and we are excited to see the mobile and fintech technology trends that have empowered consumers in these markets also emerge in Pakistan. NayaPay already offers the most robust solution for consumers to access next-generation financial conveniences in Pakistan, and we look forward to working with the team as they roll out new products and grow their consumer base.”

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