Lahore (Muhammad Yasir)
Despite a remarkable 27 percent year-on-year (YoY) growth in overall revenues in the local currency, Jazz’s revenue declined by 3.5 percent in USD terms during the third quarter of 2023. This downturn was primarily attributed to a 31 percent YoY devaluation of the Pakistani Rupee (PKR). Additionally, margins felt the impact of an unprecedented surge in business costs, marked by a 7 p.p. YoY increase in interest rates and a substantial rise in network energization cost.
Undeterred by these challenges, Jazz continues to lead the market with a strong focus on driving digital and financial inclusion, having invested PKR 20.6 billion in the first nine months of 2023, mainly under its “4G for All” initiative. This brings its overall investment in Pakistan to $10.6 billion.
The majority of its capital expenditure during the quarter was directed towards adding more than 1,000 new 4G sites, showcasing the company’s commitment to ensuring a consistent improvement in service quality for its customers. This network expansion played a pivotal role in increasing Jazz’s 4G customer base by 6.4 percent YoY, reaching 43.2 million, while its overall subscriber base reached 70.5 million.
Jazz CEO Aamir Ibrahim highlighted that the continuous investment from Jazz has already begun to yield positive results, with significant traction seen in Jazz’s fintech, entertainment, and cloud platforms. These segments have witnessed a surge in customer adoption, indicating a strong response from the market. Aamir expressed his enthusiasm for the positive trajectory of the company’s ventures, emphasizing that these investments not only enhance Jazz’s services but also contribute to the broader digital transformation of Pakistan.
He further commented that, while the company continues to invest in expanding the reach and capacity of its 4G network and driving the digital ecosystem, the financial health of the telecom industry is severely impacted due to an alarming surge in business costs, largely stemming from the wrong policy of pegging telecom spectrum prices to the US dollar. He stressed the need for a prompt resolution of the policy linking the telecom license fee to the US dollar to protect the sector’s sustainability and ensure the provision of essential digital connectivity for Pakistan’s progress.
The performance of Jazz’s digital services during the quarter solidified its position as the country’s leading digital operator. JazzCash, the most popular mobile fintech application in Pakistan, reached 15.4 million monthly active users, served 1.3 million customers with digital loans, and recorded a revenue growth of 77.3% YoY with Gross Transaction Value of PKR 5.3 trillion in the last twelve months. This was supported by the continued expansion in retail presence, reaching almost 210,000 active merchants while optimizing its agent base with more than 119,000 active agents.
Moreover, with around 45 million customers, Mobilink Microfinance Bank retains its position as Pakistan’s largest digital bank, issuing 35,000 loans during the reporting period with an average loan size of PKR 283,000, specifically to facilitate microentrepreneurs as well as the small and medium enterprise sectors.
In tandem, the cloud platform, Garaj, is digitally enabling over 100 enterprises with cutting-edge cloud and cybersecurity solutions. Meanwhile, its rapidly growing entertainment platform, Tamasha, ranked as the number one downloaded app on both the Apple App Store and Google Play during the Asia Cup. It served 14.4 million unique viewers during the tournament, achieving the highest-ever audience figures on a digital video platform for a sporting event in Pakistan.