UAE's Network International reveals 15.3% drop in Middle East revenues for H1

UAE-based payment solutions provider Network International saw its total revenues in the Middle East drop by 15.3 percent in the first six months of the year as a result of the Covid-19-enforced lockdowns and reduced customer spending.

In Africa, revenues fell 10.5 percent year-on-year for H1, while the company’s total revenue for the MENA region was down 11.9 percent.

This resulted in a $150,000 loss for the period, reflecting lower underlying EBITDA and the write-off of $6.7 million of capitalised debt issuance fees associated with the prior lending facility.

Simon Haslam, chief executive officer, said: "There has been much for the business to focus on through this period and we have continued to prioritise supporting our customers and colleagues in navigating through the challenges presented by Covid-19.

“Though this has, and will, impact financial performance in the short term, we have a strong balance sheet with significant liquidity.”

According to the company, the pace of POS merchant signings has returned to pre-Covid levels, with around 950 new merchants onboarded during 2020 so far.

E-commerce growth

Network also witnessed significant growth in online payments over the second quarter, with e-commerce volumes up 45 percent compared to the same period last year, while growth rates remained high through July at 61 percent.

In July the company announced that it is to acquire African-based technology-enabled payments enabler DPO Group for $288 million.

The acquisition will strengthen Network’s presence in Africa, giving the payments firm direct access to an extensive and diverse range of direct merchant relationships.

Also in July, Network revealed it will push ahead with its plans to expand in Saudi Arabia as soon as restrictions of movement into the kingdom are eased.

“We are very excited by the proposed acquisition of DPO, the leading high-growth online commerce platform in Africa; which will widen our capabilities across online and mobile money payments, bring an extensive range of direct merchant relationships to our business, and accelerate our growth,” said Haslam.

“We also have numerous opportunities remaining to pursue, whether that be our market entry to Saudi Arabia, our strategic partnership with Mastercard or discussions with banks around substantial outsourcing contracts. We are making excellent progress and remain confident in the industry fundamentals.”