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Disruptive innovation and men behind the rise of a digital era in Pakistan

Being in marketing for over two decades, I had the opportunity to be carefully observing and studying emerging market trends. For the last 10 years, advent of digital marketing has truly redefined the advertising industry. In the course of this journey, one theory introduced in the mid 90’s has fascinated me the most – the theory of disruptive innovation. The term disruptive innovation has led many people to a wide variety of confusing interpretations, especially when being discussed in developing countries like Pakistan. According to Harvard Business Review: “In our experience, too many people who speak of “disruption” have not read a serious book or article on the subject. Many researchers, writers, and consultants use “disruptive innovation” to describe any situation in which an industry is shaken up and previously successful incumbents stumble. But that’s much too broad a usage”.

During my quest of finding a real case study of disruptive innovation in technology and services industry, I have stumbled upon few who are sharing a common vision and working towards achieving real disruptive innovation within their individual, but shared domains.


Nadeem Hussain

we should really pay attention to are the “six kinnow digital purchase” and the “five click on-boarding process”.

Nadeem Hussain

Founder & Coach Planet N Group of Companies

The first person needs no introduction; Mr. Nadeem Hussain, who has spent 27 years at Citigroup, spent his prime years working in eight countries. After almost three decades of hard work, he returned to Pakistan and established Tameer Microfinance Bank, a company that initiated Easy Paisa, one of the most disruptive ventures in Pakistan. Mr. Hussain, a professional with years of disruptive experience, has recently shared his vision in “Financial Inclusion for the next Billion Users” at “Talks at Google” event, regarding how a meaningful digital revolution can transform Pakistan. He stated: “Three developments have to be in place. Firstly, the one-minute account. There are about 17 to 20 million level-zero accounts in Pakistan and it took the banking industry from 1947 to 2016 to get to about 40 million accounts; it took branchless banking five years to reach 17 million accounts and in a few more years they may go up to 20 to 30 million. Secondly, ‘the six-kinnow digital purchase’; you should be able to buy six kinnows using your mobile account. Thirdly, the ‘five-click on-boarding’. Masooma bibi in interior Sindh makes great achaar; she should be able to become an e-commerce player anywhere in the world in five clicks.

Key aforementioned concepts that we should really pay attention to are the “six kinnow digital purchase” and the “five click on-boarding process”. With their implication, these disruptive notions have the potential to be a catalyst for a number of truly disruptive innovations. As I continued my research with a goal of finding an solution of third point that could act as enabler, I stumbled upon a unique mobile commerce infrastructure called Go’mobishop, developed by the advertising veteran Mr. Zeeshan Niaz Ahmed, a vision driven entrepreneur with years of experience with different industries. The entire platform has been locally bootstrapped and funded by its founder.

Zeeshan Ahmed

“It’s is not about set of features or new idea, Go’mobishop is about making ideas happen.”

Zeeshan Ahmed

Founder & CEO Growonline Pvt. Ltd.

Talking to Mr. Zeeshan about the motive behind his idea, he said: ” It’s is not about set of features or new idea, Go’mobishop is about making ideas happen. It took us over twenty months to reduce cost of ecommerce to its bare bones and can be manageable by anyone who can operate smart phone without having knowledge of computer science. While understanding how China evolved into a global economy force with a support of online retail, we realized that the evolution through mCommerce could help rebuild the economy in our country. Without a doubt, the mCommerce revolution is here and we are eager to help smaller and rural communities of Pakistan ride its wave towards a better and more prosperous future”.

Mobishop is a one-off mobile commerce infrastructure hosting multiple individual retail apps within its platform. The concept of Mobishop and its business model have the potential to transform the economy in Pakistan, carrying equal efficiency and influence as Alibaba had on the Chinese market with its Taobao villages, turning farmer and rural communities of China into one of the largest economies in the world by empowering them to initiate their mobile ventures and sell the merchandise globally.


If we evaluate Mr. Nadeem Hussain’s vision, precisely the “six-kinnow digital purchase” and the “five click on-boarding process”, mobishop’s offering of multiple purchases from different brand outlets within a unified mobile app and a “5 minutes onboarding” process are the reflection of Mr. Husain’s thoughts and required criteria. We can clearly recognize a revolutionary vision being matched with already developed platform, which is ready to be used and easily available to customers across Pakistan, and soon beyond. Hence, Mobishop has already created a successful disruptive innovation by making a personal mobile application available to the masses at hardly one percent of the market costs. Moreover, all of its international competitors require at least six months of development and a minimum cost of RS 1.5 – 3.5 million. Now, with such a strong product and market potential, Mr. Zeeshan is strategically making strategic partnerships, considering outside investments and growing his team by international experts.

Qasif Shahid

“What whatsapp has done to messaging, We want to do to payments in Pakistan.

What Whatsapp has done is to change the way people communicate, It has killed the full stop.”

Qasif Shahid

Founder & CEO, Finja

Finally, it is pertinent to note that when it comes to overall digital revolution in Pakistan and the numerous players who playing active role in its development and setting benchmarks for others to follow, another key player that deserves mentioning is Mr. Qasif Shahid, Founder & CEO of Finja.

“Our wallets are actually for the banked, so they can digitally load the money into it. And then they give it to others with whom they are exchanging transactions. So our wallets are for the rich and the affluent and they reach out to others and give them this wallet .My plumbing is with microfinance banks but it doesn’t mean that we are targeting the lower SECs directly. Behavior change in financial services always happens from top down. It’s the rich man that tells about the feasibility of a bank being a good one or a bad one, not the poor guy.” explained Mr. Shahid while speaking to Profit Magazine.

If carefully analyzed, we can see that a lot of work that has already been done to establish digital Pakistan is completely based on mobile platforms such as Easy Paisa, Mobicash, Upaisa etc. and mobile wallets like SimSim and Keenu. Nonetheless, aforementioned individuals, who are leaders behind the rise of digital Pakistan, are focusing their efforts exclusively on smart phones, which for them is already the primary tool of access to internet.

Disruptive innovation

To conclude this brief study; Pakistan already has all the tools and resources available to develop businesses which are truly disruptive and distinctively innovative, however, it is predicted that the market course will take its time – as usual, the early adaptors and the laggards will define the true leaders in the retail marketplace in approximately 2-3 years. Still, we can proudly say that the group visionary leaders are already working on the establishment of digital era in our country and changing the landscape of what is possible in retail. Thanks to people like Mr. Nadeem Hussain, Mr. Qasif Shahid and Mr. Zeeshan Niaz, we already have different case studies of eCommerce driven disruptive technologies innovations to study, research and follow in the future.

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