China’s online shopping giant Alibaba grew its fledgling worldwide empire today with yet another fresh acquisition.
Alibaba is now the owner of Daraz, an online marketplace startup that covers Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and Nepal. This afternoon’s joint announcement doesn’t reveal any financial details.
The move comes just over two years after Alibaba expanded into Southeast Asia by buying the region’s top online shopping destination, Lazada. The Chinese firm also runs Singapore’s Redmart, and owns stakes in India’s Paytm and Indonesia’s Tokopedia.
Just like Lazada, Daraz began life as part of Germany’s startup factory, Rocket Internet, which specializes in opening businesses in developing markets. It launched in 2012, initially focusing on Pakistan – arguably the largest relatively untapped market in Asia, with a population not far short of 200 million.
Daraz’s five markets cover 460 million people, 60 percent of whom are under the age of 35. Although online shopping accounts for a tiny amount of the overall retail market in those nations, each one is poised for growth as more people come online. Pakistan’s online shopping spend is set to grow from the current US$75 million to US$1 billion by 2020, according to pundits.
Alibaba’s payments wing, Ant Financial, entered Pakistan in March by taking a 45 percent stake in Telenor Microfinance Bank, maker of the popular online banking service Easypaisa.
Alibaba founder Jack Ma last month visited Pakistan and met with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif amid a buzz of rumors about the company making further moves in the nation.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
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