Islamic Finance

Naureen Hyat: Delivering the bank to millions in Pakistan

Photo: Naureen Hyat

In a nation where only 23 per cent of the 200 million population are financially included, there are many more thousands whose hopes and aspirations are frustrated every day due to lack of proper access to loans and insurance. A medical college dropout may have just the solution.

Naureen Hyat had always wanted to be a doctor to help and treat the poor and needy. Although she did join a medical college, she had to drop out as it was far from home. But when she saw that people needed more financial services to assist them in managing their lives and building better futures, she had found another way to help.

Moved by the sacrifices and contributions of her ancestors to humanity, and with the support of her family, Naureen embarked upon a journey of philanthropy and social development at an early stage.

Naureen’s great grandfather, Sir Sikandar Hyat Khan, was the Premier of Punjab, and her grandfather, Sardar Shaukat Hyat, was a prominent politician and a close companion of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan. She belongs to the family that published the first Urdu newspaper in undivided India, Paisa Akhbar, founded by Mehboob Alam.

With a degree in finance and as a member of the CFA community, Naureen is well versed in the intricacies of the financial world. Today, she is a pioneer in her country, developing Tez Financial Services, a smartphone application that provides financial access to the unbanked, under-banked and Millennial users.

The application aims at accelerating financial inclusion by aggregating credit, savings, insurance, and investments into a single platform by analyzing smartphone data for customer acquisition and credit underwriting.

Naureen Hyat

Image: Naureen Hyat

“Despite having 43 banks, only 23 per cent have access to formal financial services in Pakistan. Aimed at the underbanked, Tez Financial has the potential to include 80 million users into the financial mainstream by 2020 and bring in currency circulation worth $33 million into former channels and thus contribute to poverty reduction and better causes of health, education and gender equality,” Naureen told My Salaam. 

The final app is expected to hit the market by the end of the year with all its verticals, including those for credit, savings, investments and insurance, and Naureen and her team are currently busy on the pilot project.

“Tez Financial will be first launched on the Android platform; the desktop version will come in later,” Naureen explained.

It’s not her first stint with financial projects and technology. After starting her career with the Pakistan Credit Rating Agency (PACRA), Naureen went on to co-found CheckIn Solutions, a fintech focused on the provision of cost-effective and time-efficient technology for the microfinance sector.

According to Naureen, the nano-credit product in the app provides short tenure credit ranging from one to four weeks for anything from $50 to $100. The savings product offers Tez Committee, is a marketplace of funds where people can pool their funds and win the pool every month, based on a bidding process.

The insurance coverages are tailored based on members’ smartphone data. Tez Fiancial has also tied up with Karachi-based EFU Life to ramp up its insurance offerings. 

Tez Financial Team

The Tez Financial Team (L-R) : Mueen Batlay, Naureen Hyat, Humza Hussain, Irtiza Kaleem, Shoaib Lalani

Naureen and her team recently won a prestigious competition in Zurich, which significantly raised the prospects of finding a financial sponsor. Recently, Tez Financial Services topped the SDG (Support Disruption for Good) Challenge organized by The Responsible Finance and Investment Foundation.

“We are in the process of raising funds and should finalise deals with potential investors in the coming months. SDG Challenge was a good opportunity to present ourselves to potential investors. Some Shariah-compliant funds have also shown interest,” Naureen said.

But will Tez Financial serve the purpose of helping the poor if the product is only available on smartphones? Fortunately, Pakistan has 137 million mobile subscribers and an increasing teledensity of 70 per cent.

Naureen clarified, “The smartphone user base is 40 million currently and is expected to double by 2020, according to GSMA estimates. Our market will primarily be the smartphone user base, which is currently 40 million, going on to 80 million in two years. Broadband proliferation is happening for real and financial inclusion is no longer a pipedream.”

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Seban Scaria