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Having topped a billion euro ($1.2bn) in sales in the fourth quarter alone (2.6 percent over the consensus expectation), Worldline is now moving into top gear, with the firm promising to recruit more than five thousand people globally while also selling its Terminals, Solutions & Services business to Apollo Funds for an upfront amount plus shares that could come to as much as €2.3 billion ($2.6bn). The sale comes in the wake of the Ingenico takeover two years ago, which now allows for corporate simplification and a sharpening of focus on digital and e-commerce services. Worldline has been making a series of acquisitions and deals around the world in recent years.
Chief executive Gilles Grapinet, reflecting on his decade-long experience running Worldline, noted in an analyst call that banks were renewing their interest in their payment activities to an "unprecedented" extent. Last year was the watershed, he noted, leading major banks in Europe to re-examine their strategies. In September, the company announced the intention of retiring the equensWorldline, SIX Payment Services, Bambora and Paymark brands.
Last month, as provisional tallies for 2021's payment flows began to emerge, it was calculated that remittances to Mexico, mostly from the United States, had reached over $50 billion for the first time. The jump in value has led Coinbase, the most prominent cryptocurrency exchange in the US, to launch a new programme in a bid to disrupt the cross-border status quo. The challenger's pilot programme is currently free of charge for transmitting cryptocurrency funds south of the border, with recipients able to convert into local currency at the other end where such facilities are in place. At the end of next month, a fee will be brought in which, Coinbase promises, will be at least half that charged by incumbent providers. As reported in this newsletter a few weeks ago, Revolut is also making a bid for this lucrative revenue stream through an offer for 30-minute-max remittances to any bank in Mexico up to ten times a month without fees.
As the United Kingdom emerges from a lengthy period of personal and commercial restrictions around Covid, British banks seem newly energised when it comes to credit card lending, with Barclays' new chief executive, Coimbatore Venkatakrishnan, singling out consumer credit as an area of focus for his team. He foresees households, especially in the bank's American market, looking for unsecured lending again as the lockdowns that have dominated the last two years come to an end and families cope with increased expenses in an inflationary environment. The remarks come in the wake of Barclays' purchase of Gap's credit card portfolio from Synchrony last August. Barclays reported record-breaking full-year results for 2021 this week. Domestic-market rival Lloyds too reported its fourth quarter and full-year results, along with the setting out of goals for an increase of digital bank customers to over 20 million by 2024 as well as intended growth of its presence in credit cards, with significant investments promised in the bank's tech capabilities.
A range of intriguing acquisitions from around the world reveal renewed excitement around payments and digital banking. In Brazil, Spanish bank BBVA is buying an additional stake in the parent of Neon Pagamentos, taking its ownership level to almost 30 percent. As noted in Verisk Financial Research's most recent cards and digital payments report on Brazil, Neon issues a virtual Visa-branded credit card as well as offering a digital current account in a partnership with a local bank. Brazilians are well used to digital payments: central bank-backed payments sensation Pix has already attracted the custom of almost two thirds of the population in the 15 months since it was launched. In Italy, Nexi is currently in discussions to take over the merchant acquiring activities of BPER (the erstwhile Banca Popolare dell'Emilia Romagna) continuing Nexi's bid to dominate European payments.
Meanwhile, in the Middle East, Mashreq is at the centre of two stories simultaneously: breaking with tradition, it is investing in a Banking-as-a-service provider called NymCard, said to be the only one of its kind in the region; the move may make it easier for international players to deliver services thanks to NymCard's API-powered services offering. At the same time, Mashreq, which is based in the UAE, is considering whether to sell off its payments unit, responsible for processing credit and debit cards transactions, as the consolidation wave that has been sweeping Europe comes to the Middle East.
Other stories of interest this week...
Global: BNPL Zip sees half-year loss as US stimulus ends
India: Google Pay begins offering loans to users
Nordics: Four out of five card payments now contactless
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The Weekly News Digest from Argus Advisory Research highlights significant developments in payment cards, digital payments, acquiring, processing, retail banking and consumer credit. Our writers and researchers frame these items in contexts such as historical, sectoral and regional trends, adding a layer of value often missing from the rolling news cycle.
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