Pakistani mobile operator Warid Telecom has launched an LTE handset offer in partnership with the country’s Bank Alfalah. Warid’s postpaid customers who have a Bank Alfalah credit card with an adequate line of credit can avail themselves of an offer to purchase select smartphones on either of two installment plans—6 months or 12 months. The seven available devices include handsets from Huawei, Nokia, Samsung and Sony. Monthly costs for 6-month installment plans range from PKR 8,207.00 (US $81.34) for the Huawei Ascend P7 to PKR 15,513.00 (US $153.75) for the Samsung Galaxy Note 4. The 12-month installment plans, with the same range of devices, cost from PKR 4,503.00 (US $44.63) to PKR 8,157.00 (US $80.84) per month. Warid Telecom is also giving 8 GB of mobile data at no cost to customers who purchase any of the handsets on an installment plan.
Warid Telecom’s 26 December launch of 4G service made it the second of the country’s operators to launch 4G service, after Zong. It is not surprising that the country’s smaller operators launched 4G ahead of the larger ones. Pakistan experienced delays for many years in launching 3G service—it issued its first 3G licenses in April 2014—and with the country being so late in launching 3G compared to other nations in South Asia, it makes sense for the relatively small operators to move ahead faster with 4G deployment so as to gain advantage over their larger competitors. Warid Telecom’s strategy to promote 4G handsets in a partnership with Alfalah Bank, as well as the 8 GB of mobile data that customers who purchase these devices on installment receive at no cost, will likely help increase the operator’s 4G subscribers.
Although this offer requires the use of a credit card, it is interesting that Warid has chosen to partner with a banking institution, perhaps as a first step in trying to spark more use of mobile money by its subscribers. While the expansion of mobile money applications has been occurring quite dramatically in developing countries, Pakistan has witnessed relatively little of it in comparison with other emerging markets, particularly with regard to mobile wallet use by consumers. Warid’s offer, which appears to have been strategically developed to expand the ability to use 4G service, may also drive an increase in the use of mobile wallets by the country’s unbanked and underbanked population.