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New revelations shed contemporary gentle on happenings inside troubled fintech startup TAG



New revelations have come to the fore concerning circumstances at fintech startup TAG within the lead-up to the suspension of the pilot operations and investigation by the State Financial institution of Pakistan (SBP), which initially began with the tampering with a doc within the software to purchase a majority stake in SAMBA Financial institution.

It is a creating story and Revenue will preserve updating particulars about what transpired at TAG as extra info surfaces. 

A high-ranking supply at TAG Innovation’s (TAG Pakistan) board disclosed particulars to Revenue concerning the circumstances resulting in the suspension of TAG’s pilot approval and investigation by the State Financial institution, which initially started when founders Talal Ahmed Gondal and Ahsan Kaleem Khan disclosed to an official on the firm {that a} cast doc had been submitted to the central financial institution for the SAMBA bid, and that the State Financial institution had come to find out about it by the investor whose letter had been purportedly doctored earlier than submission as a part of the bid to start due diligence. 

The founders had additionally been concerned in embezzling investor cash they usually had been eliminated promptly from the corporate as a result of their actions may compromise whole TAG’s fintech operations in Pakistan, he says.

On February 10, a letter from Hong Kong-based TTB Companions committing a $45 million funding for SAMBA acquisition by TAG Fintech, the Delaware-based holding firm of TAG Innovation in Pakistan, had been submitted to the State Financial institution.

In response to the supply, round February 25, the central financial institution sought a affirmation from TTB Companions of the $45 million dedication for the SAMBA acquisition to verify their participation within the SAMBA acquisition bid and the quantity they’d dedicated as per the letter, understood to have been written by Talal due to his fundraising position as CEO, however despatched to the State Financial institution by the opposite cofounder Ahsan Khan.  

On the night time of February 27, TTB Companions disowned the letter TAG had submitted to the State Financial institution for the acquisition. Consequently, on February 28, a gathering was referred to as at TAG Innovation Pvt Restricted (TAG Pakistan) which was headed by a high-ranking firm official to evaluate the implications of the offense dedicated and repair duty. 

It’s crucial to notice that the bid to amass SAMBA Financial institution was submitted by TAG Fintech Pvt Restricted, which is the Delaware-based holding firm of TAG Innovation Pvt Restricted in Pakistan, the fintech startup within the race to turn out to be an Digital Cash Institute (EMI). The one official at TAG Fintech within the US was CEO Talal Ahmed Gondal, who was additionally the CEO of the Pakistani entity.

In response to one other supply on the firm, no different official of TAG in Pakistan was affiliated with TAG Fintech within the US in any official capability besides CEO Talal. Although cofounder Ahsan Khan has a shareholding in TAG Fintech in addition to Alex Luchianchuk, the CTO of TAG in Pakistan.

After the three shareholders, the remaining pool was allotted for workers below the worker inventory choice plan.

For the reason that SAMBA bid was submitted by TAG Fintech, any offense dedicated by TAG Fintech official additionally affiliated with TAG Pakistan may compromise the Pakistani entity which has been gunning to safe the EMI license since 2020 and has raised multi-million greenback funding.

In response to the supply on board of the fintech startup, an inquiry was carried out to repair duty as a result of offenses like tampering with official paperwork may danger motion by the Federal Investigation Company (FIA) and the SBP had proven an inclination to contain FIA within the matter.  

On March 28, the identical day the interior assembly at TAG was held, Talal Gondal, in his capability because the CEO of TAG Fintech, wrote to the central financial institution to withdraw the bid for the SAMBA acquisition and in addition determined to step down as CEO of TAG Innovation.

Subsequently, on March 1, Talal wrote his confession admitting to doc tampering below his oversight, however pleaded negligence as a substitute of ill-intention, and in addition formally stepped down because the CEO of TAG in Pakistan. Stepping down because the CEO, Talal was additionally stopped from any involvement within the firm operations.

Within the interim, Talal determined to provide the helm of all operations to Ahsan Khan who took over because the CEO following Talal’s resignation.

The supply additionally revealed that following these developments and primarily based on mutual understanding, Talal and Ahsan determined to withdraw funds from the corporate accounts of TAG Fintech in addition to TAG Innovation, and subsequently an quantity of $350,000 was transferred by Talal to Ahsan, in addition to one other sum withdrawn by Ahsan Khan on account of paying salaries to staff which included funds to his brother Tayyab Kaleem Khan.

The $350,000 quantity, which Talal claims Ahsan withdrew illegally from the TAG Fintech account, was revealed to have been transferred by Talal himself to Ahsan. Alternatively, in his June 16 letter to traders, Ahsan claimed that Talal had withdrawn in extra of $1 million from TAG Fintech and TAG Innovation accounts.

The SBP was subsequently advised that in addition to forgery of the investor letter, founders together with Ahsan this time had withdrawn investor cash from firm accounts and moved them to non-public accounts. 

The supply additionally tells Revenue that Ahsan was additionally subsequently faraway from the corporate for his conduct. The high-ranking supply additional says that each the cofounders had been eliminated with the consent of an investor in TAG, whose identify was not disclosed.

The SBP was saved within the loop about all of the modifications as a result of being the regulator, it must be saved knowledgeable of modifications in key positions at monetary establishments. In response to the supply, the cofounders had even determined to dissolve the corporate at one time limit due to the fiasco they’d created.

On March 17, a high-ranking official at TAG wrote a letter to the SBP as a follow-up to TAG’s request from February 28 to withdraw the bid for the SAMBA acquisition. Within the letter, Talal’s confessional assertion, in addition to his resignation letter, was hooked up.

Within the run-up, the supply says that the manager chairman of the corporate was requested by the SBP to take further cost of the CEO on March 18.

Just a few weeks later, on April 11, the State Financial institution suspended pilot operations of TAG and issued a show-cause discover addressed to Talal, CEO of TAG Fintech, and to CEO TAG Innovation, in search of a proof “as to why motion shouldn’t be taken in opposition to the sponsors, board of administrators and administration when it comes to relevant legal guidelines, guidelines and rules” following submission of a tampered doc.

The SBP highlighted within the discover that its findings close to the tampered investor letter solid critical doubts on the integrity, honesty, and repute of the sponsors, board of administrators, and administration.

In response to the supply, in response to the SBP discover, the central financial institution was knowledgeable that TAG Fintech CEO Talal, who was additionally the CEO of TAG Innovation, doctoring the investor letter was not ill-intention however negligence. Additional, the cash that was illegally withdrawn from TAG Fintech accounts was achieved primarily based on mutual understanding of the founders, Talal and Ahsan, and that the remainder of the administration at TAG Innovation had no visibility on TAG Fintech accounts.

The SBP was additional apprised that each the founders had confessed to their acts and had been sidelined from the corporate. As a result of none of those actions had been achieved on TAG Innovation’s platform, any such actions at TAG Fintech within the US shouldn’t ideally have an effect on TAG Innovation’s operations in Pakistan.

The high-ranking supply on the board additionally states that contemplating that each the founders had been very younger, the State Financial institution was requested to take a compassionate stance on the actions of the founders who acted overenthusiastically.

The supply additional tells Revenue {that a} high-ranking TAG Innovation official has since been making efforts to save lots of the corporate from struggling due to the fiasco created by the founders. “TAG has poached and collected very high-end human useful resource expertise and if this firm retains working, it should preserve offering employment to all these individuals,” the supply says.

Due to this fact, in response, the SBP was additionally advised concerning the human useful resource employed by TAG Innovation which shouldn’t be affected adversely due to the actions of the founders, particularly since they had been eliminated and had been now not within the administration of TAG Innovation.

It was additional revealed that after each the cofounders had been faraway from C-level positions within the fintech startup, some extra discrepancies had been found. It was discovered that the CTO of the corporate, Alex Luchianchuk, was by no means disclosed as a shareholder in TAG Fintech to SBP.

In response to one other supply, below the EMI rules, shareholders with 5-10% shareholding within the holding firm are required to clear match and correct take a look at by the central financial institution. Alex, in line with the supply, owns 10% shareholding, due to this fact, the non-disclosure of Alex, the TAG CTO, as a shareholder to the SBP by TAG Fintech CEO Talal Gondal was one other offense that was dedicated by him. 

Revenue regrets that this model couldn’t be added to the unique story however might be updating the story with all of the variations as they floor


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Fintech firm OneLoad publicizes $11m increase from Invoice & Melinda Gates Basis, others



LAHORE: Pakistan’s fintech firm OneLoad has introduced elevating $11 million in new funds because it focuses on the following part of development.

OneLoad’s spherical was led by Pakistan’s Sarmayacar and Abu Dhabhi-based Shorooq Companions, with participation from the Invoice & Melinda Gates Basis’s strategic funding fund. The fintech firm additionally has Worldwide Finance Company (IFC) as its prior funder.

OneLoad, owned by System’s Ltd subsidiary EP Methods, is digitising micro retailers for banking features.  The Lahore-based fintech firm can be an aspirant for the Digital Cash Institute (EMI) license and acquired the in-principle approval from the State Financial institution in January 2020. 

Muhammad Yar Hiraj, the founder and CEO of OneLoad, tells Revenue that they’ve fulfilled the central financial institution’s necessities and predict approval for the pilot operations in just a few weeks. 

Based in mid-2014, OneLoad acquired retailers by enabling them to promote airtime of telecom operators digitally. With its retailer base now intact, it has moved on to allow them to just accept funds and plans additional to equip them for cash-in and cash-out providers.

OneLoad plans to make use of the EMI license to transform OneLoad accounts into financial institution accounts and situation debit playing cards.

“OneLoad skilled retailers to maintain cash with the corporate as a retailer of worth. With EMI, that retailer of worth goes to develop into a checking account on which OneLoad will have the ability to situation a debit card,” Hiraj advised Revenue

“Since it should develop into a checking account, retailers will have the ability to settle for funds from different digital wallets in addition to by way of QR codes.” 

Hiraj additional says that crucial operate that they plan to allow retailers for is that as an alternative of doing it by way of bodily ATMs, prospects cash-in and cash-out providers by way of OneLoad’s retailer community.

Retailers are additional being provided digital loans to handle their working capital necessities. OneLoad does the lending by way of the NBFI license of accomplice firms and its EP Methods, can be within the means of buying an NBFI license.  

Hiraj says that all the suite of OneLoad choices is actually geared toward fulfilling monetary wants of shops, in addition to enabling them to offer banking providers with out bodily financial institution branches.

OneLoad will use the contemporary funds to develop its suite of services and products, focused on the giant unbanked inhabitants in Pakistan, estimated at 100 million adults. “We’re a grassroots firm for the grassroots,” Hiraj stated in a press assertion.

“We’re excited to convey new companions to the corporate like Sarmayacar and Shorooq Companions. Our imaginative and prescient is to completely digitise the monetary wants of the unbanked and the financially excluded lots in Pakistan,” Hiraj says.

“We can’t have monetary inclusion with out a stable infrastructure that integrates into individuals’s day by day lives; if the merchandise we construct don’t seamlessly combine with individuals day-after-day, we is not going to obtain that,” stated Tamer Azer, a accomplice at Shorooq Companions.

“That is what we discovered in Egypt and that is what we see as an amazing alternative in Pakistan as effectively.” 



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Logistics firm Trax lays off workers as prices rise, volumes dip



Logistics startup Trax laid off about 50 workers on Friday, with extra layoffs on the playing cards because the logistics firm rationalises its operations to regulate to the macroeconomic affect which has decreased order volumes and elevated prices. 

Moreover, Asad Abdullah, the chairman, cofounder and sponsor of Trax, has taken over reins because the CEO of the corporate, a place he says he has assumed informally and briefly to steer the corporate out of the present downturn. The longtime CEO of the corporate, Muhammad Hassan Khan, who had been on the helm since 2017, is unofficially holding the place of chief working officer (COO) for now.

In accordance with a supply, the corporate laid off about 50 workers on Friday. Every division of the corporate has been ordered to slash the workforce by 50% so layoffs in massive numbers are anticipated within the coming days. 

Asad Abdullah, the cofounder and chairman of Trax, instructed Revenue that just some departments are being rationalised by 50%. On the entire, the eventual affect can be about 15-20% workers that may be laid off from the corporate. 

Trax is estimated to be using 1,500-2,000 individuals together with riders. In accordance with its Linkedin, Trax firm dimension is 1,000-5,000 workers. 

Explaining the rationale for the readjustment within the enterprise together with the layoffs and the chairman himself now steering the corporate, Asad Abdullah instructed Revenue that order volumes of shoppers they serve for deliveries have dipped due to inflation and a funding crunch within the enterprise capital house. In the meantime 

The enterprise capital-funded eCommerce startups use companies equivalent to Trax for his or her deliveries. Although Trax offers companies equivalent to warehousing, doc deliveries, and packing and shifting, the majority of its volumes come from eCommerce deliveries.  

Trax’s personal prices have elevated due to the rise in gasoline costs on which, being a logistics firm, it’s closely reliant.   

“We deliberate and organised our total infrastructure for development and that has ceased,” Asad tells Revenue, explaining the readjustment in enterprise operations. 

The laid-off workers will probably be paid one month’s wage, in accordance with the supply. Hassan tells us that workers can be compensated as per their employment contracts. 

Based in 2014, Trax is among the many pioneers of eCommerce deliveries commanding an 11% market share general within the logistics house, in accordance with the BlueEx Data Memorandum (IM) printed forward of their Progress Enterprise Market (GEM) Board itemizing on the Pakistan Inventory Trade in December final yr. 

In accordance with the BlueEx IM, the market share of bigwigs TCS and Leopards was 25% and 12% respectively. Trax’s competitors now consists of enterprise capital-funded startups PostEx, Rider, and Swyft Logistics. 

PostEx has introduced closing $8.6 million in seed funding this yr, whereas Rider has introduced a $5.4 million seed increase. Swyft, then again, is within the means of elevating a funding spherical. 

Trax has not disclosed elevating enterprise capital. Asad tells Revenue that they’ve constructed Trax on regular enterprise fundamentals, not reliant on enterprise capital funding. 


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Pakistan’s Dbank secures backing of Sequioa in $17.6m seed spherical



LAHORE: Pakistan’s fintech firm Dbank, which aspires to turn out to be a digital financial institution, has secured the backing of Sequoia Capital, probably the most outstanding enterprise capital corporations on the planet in its seed spherical.

Dbank at the moment introduced a $17.6 million seed increase co-led by Sequoia Capital Southeast Asia and Kleiner Perkins, one other storied enterprise capital agency. Brazilian digital banking platform Nubank, US-based VC agency RTP World, Rayn and native accomplice Askari Financial institution Ltd. additionally joined the seed spherical.

The spherical additionally consists of participation from angel traders who’ve labored at firms similar to Google, Goldman Sachs and Stripe.

Based in 2021 by Tania Aidrus, a former Google govt and SAPM on Digital Pakistan below PTI authorities, and Khurram Jamali, additionally a former Google govt, Dbank is searching for a digital retail financial institution license after the State Financial institution of Pakistan (SBP) introduced the licensing and regulatory framework for digital banks in January this yr.  Below the regime, the central financial institution could grant two kinds of licences: Digital Retail Financial institution (DRB) or Digital Full Financial institution (DFB) licence for standard and Islamic banking.

Dbank is within the operating to safe a DRB license. The competitors for the license has been stiff with 20 candidates within the line, of which solely 5 firms will likely be awarded a license this yr by the regulator. 

Moreover Dbank, these reported to be within the race to safe a digital financial institution license embody HBL, UBL, Financial institution Alfalah, JS Financial institution, South African digital retail financial institution TymeBank, JazzCash and Tajikistan’s Alif Financial institution.

In line with a press release, Dbank plans to make formal monetary companies accessible, clear, and pleasant for everybody in order that when monetary wants come up, they will entry capital with out being exploited. 

“Pakistan is dwelling to round 6% of the world’s unbanked inhabitants with over 110 million adults (79%) at the moment unbanked in accordance with a World Financial institution report, of which girls make up 82%. This makes Pakistan the third largest unbanked nation on the planet after China and India,” Dbank stated in a press release.

“This narrative has to alter and that’s solely doable if we create entry to monetary merchandise which might be user-centric, extremely easy and empowering. We would like our customers to be accountable for their cash and to make knowledgeable selections”, Tania Aidrus stated, sharing her imaginative and prescient behind why they based Dbank. 

An unsure future

For digital banks, the chance to serve clients lies in lending and worth added companies. In line with an earlier report by Revenue, the avenues for lending are a lot smaller, nevertheless, for the reason that company and authorities lending is and clutched by legacy banks, leaving solely client and SME financing open for remainder of the gamers. 

Each client and SME financing are excessive threat, with microfinance banks reporting excessive NPLs. Each these segments haven’t been penetrated by legacy banks for one purpose or one other however could be penetrated simply in the event that they see digital banks rising large in these segments. 


Moreover lending, companies similar to P2P funds, invoice funds and financial institution transfers are hygiene components which should be offered in a sturdy method and can’t be thought-about as the idea for creating industrial viability.


However, the sources of deposits for any new entrant are considerably much less. Pakistan has an uneven distribution of wealth and the highest 10% inhabitants has gathered the vast majority of the wealth. 

The highest 10% has been been occupied by banks which varieties the Rs17 trillion value of complete trade deposits. For digital banks, the avenue to draw deposits stays the underside 90% of the depositors which occupy solely 10% of the wealth. 

The underside 10% are the financially excluded which the banks don’t chase as a result of serving them comes at a value larger than the cash that may be made off of them. Specialists in Pakistan’s monetary companies sector have informed Revenue that it’ll be some time earlier than any digital financial institution would have the ability to faucet into the deposits of legacy banks.

Digital banks would have a value benefit, nevertheless, since all their companies will likely be provided via digital channels and never the bodily brick and mortar institutions, however within the absence of a giant deposit base to faucet and never many avenues for lending, digital banks face an unsure future.


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