Egyptian mobile payment company changes hands

Interest in African fintech businesses continues as an Egyptian mobile payment provider changes hands on the private equity market.

A majority stake in Egyptian mobile payments service TPAY Mobile has been purchased by Africa-focused private investor Helios Investment Partners.

Helios acquired 76% of TPAY from Egyptian technology investment fund A15, which will remain a minority shareholder, along with the company’s senior management.

TPAY allows direct carrier billing, connecting businesses with customers who need to make mobile payments, and operates across 16 countries, including Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco and Sudan, with nearly half of its transactions coming in Africa.

The company’s co-founder and managing partner, Babatunde Soyoye, said: “A15 and TPAY management have built an outstanding mobile payments platform that is profitable and still has a lot of room for growth in Africa and beyond given its applicability to a wide range of payment types and ease of use.”

Co-founder and chief executive Sahar Salama added: “Helios brings new energy from a vibrant and experienced team that will drive real value to the business. This partnership will expedite TPAY’s strategic growth plans and we are on track to double our year-on-year revenue in 2019.”

Headquartered in London, Helios primarily operates in the African market, with investments in over 30 African countries, including Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Algeria, Tunisia and Angola. Those investments are spread across sectors including retail and consumer products, telecommunications and technology, financial services, energy and transport.

TPAY received advice from corporate finance advisor Cavendish, while Helios was advised on the deal by a London-based team from international law firm Norton Rose Fulbright, led by partner Bayo Odubeko and consisting of senior associate Nariman Armaly and associate Oji Adoh.

Odubeko said in a statement that the transaction was “one of the largest to date in the direct carrier billing mobile payments sector in Africa”, adding, “payments technologies and infrastructure in the Middle East and Africa are developing rapidly. As global payment volumes continue to increase, we anticipate more M&A activity in the sector”.

The transaction comes at a time when Africa is at the forefront of developments in financial technology (fintech) particularly mobile payment systems, due to the spread of mobile phones and lack of traditional banking infrastructure. Small businesses and start-ups across the continent have embraced new technologies such as blockchain to provide banking services to communities which were previously unable to access them.

French telecommunications giant Orange recently invested in South African fintech companyYoco, three years after taking over Egyptian mobile operator Mobinil, which has since been renamed as Orange Egypt.