Banking & Finance Payments firm optimistic after World Cup and Saudi launch By Andy Sambidge January 23, 2023 Creative Commons/Richard Tanzer Fotografie Network International operates in over 50 markets in the Mena region Digital payments giant Network International expects to find its revenues grew by more than a quarter in 2022 following the expansion of operations in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Africa. Preliminary audit results will be released in March but the company believes earnings for last year will reach $438 million. The Dubai-based firm, which operates in more than 50 markets across the Middle East and Africa, with a special focus on the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, South Africa and Jordan, ended last year “in a position of strength”, CEO Nandan Mer said. Digital payments giant hopes for boost from UAE-Africa trade talksThe Gulf is going cashless – and sooner than you think Mer added that the company continues to see a high growth outlook, supported by “structural market expansion and continued strategic delivery”. Total processing volumes (TPV) in the UAE and Jordan delivered unexpected and “exceptionally strong” growth compared to pre-pandemic levels. Domestic TPV, which represents spending from consumers domiciled in the region, was up 21 percent year-on-year during the fourth quarter of 2022 while international TPV – spending by overseas visitors – jumped by 28 percent, boosted by the Fifa World Cup in Qatar during November and December. The company owns DPO Group, Africa’s largest payment service provider, which showed TPV growth of 25 percent despite being impacted by challenging macroeconomic conditions in South Africa including an unreliable energy supply, high unemployment and rising interest rates. Mer said the acquisition of DPO has doubled e-commerce revenues in Africa, adding alternative payment capabilities and accelerating SME signings. “We ended 2022 in a position of strength, having set out a refreshed strategy and delivering on several key commitments,” Mer said. “In the merchant business we saw a record number of wins alongside new capability launches.” Network International reported five new financial institution contracts in the quarter, securing 18 in the year, in addition to the renewal of a 10-year deal with one of Egypt’s largest private banks. “In the processing business we saw strong full year revenue growth as a result of new customer wins and the accelerated transition to digital payments across all our markets,” Mer said. “We have also launched a number of new revenue growth opportunities including processing services in Saudi Arabia, where we are live with a number of customers, merchant payments in Egypt and commercial payment services in the region.” In Egypt, direct-to-merchant payment services were recently launched and are expected to be built on during 2023. Two new processing customers were secured in Saudi Arabia, further underpinning its recent entry into the market and bringing its portfolio to six in total. Network, which has set a medium to long-term $50 million revenue target in the kingdom, said it remains encouraged by the opportunity, adding it has a “healthy” customer pipeline in place. Network International processed over $42 billion in total TPV for more than 150,000 merchants in 2021 and processed over 979 million issuer transactions on 16 million cards for over 200 financial institutions.