After months of statements going back and forth of a possible entry of e-commerce giant, the Alibaba Group in Pakistan, on Tuesday, The Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) finally announced that it had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which would bring the company to the country. The Group offers everything from a website for the consumer to purchase all sorts of retail products, to its own version of the electronic payment system, PayPal.

The company’s strategy is simple – it plans to form partnerships with local Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and facilitate export through its existing networks. This includes online payments, business to business sales, and even allowing the SMEs to utilise the retail channels set up by Alibaba group to export across the world. Alongside this, cloud computing and other technological advantages will be provided for Alibaba’s partner SMEs to assist in any way possible.

An e-commerce group that will form partnerships and empower local retailers and offer support will be very useful going forward. But beyond that, Alibaba’s entry into Pakistan can also potentially incentivise other e-commerce giants to bring their business to the country. The chances for growth with multinational e-commerce companies coming in is enormous – beyond employment, online businesses stand to bring greater connectivity, ease-of-access, economic activity and even entrepreneurship. A direct foreign investment into the sector, coupled with support for local enterprises is bound to lead to exponential growth in the coming years.

Opening Pakistani markets through online retail and payment options is likely to have a positive impact on the economy. With greater investment in communication and internet (that will be brought about with CPEC), Pakistan can connect itself to the global market with more ease. In fact, many experts have predicted that the coming years could see a major change in the way the world handles its money, with the rise in electronic banking, more and more people are carrying out electronic transactions – it is high time the people of Pakistan are brought up to speed as well.