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Network International plans payment switch investment following R500m injection into on-soil platform

Image of Network International Group processing Africa MD and cohead group processing Dr Reda Helal

DR REDA HELAL Network has many years of collective payment knowledge and expertise in South Africa

3rd November 2023

By: Natasha Odendaal

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

     

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As Dubai-based FTSE-listed Network International’s cloud-based, integrated digital payment suite Network One onboards local banks, mobile network operators (MNOs) and fintechs, it has announced an additional R60-million investment into a payment switch.

This follows its initial R500-million investment into the on-soil platform as the company further accelerates its plans for the Southern Africa region.

“Our acquisition of DPO, an e-commerce provider across the African market, gave us the confidence to take the next step with our R500-million platform investment just 18 months later. This next R60-million investment shows how we are stepping things up a notch and moving Network into the payment services fast lane,” says Network International group CEO Nandan Mer.

The new payment switch is due to go live in 2024, which will further ensure scalability and continuity of the platform in South Africa’s high transaction volume market.

“Being on the ground and understanding the nuances of what the local market really needs has helped us deliver an offering that is perfectly suited to South African businesses,” says Mer.

According to the group, the integrated payment suite offers both merchant and issuer solutions, hosted and supported in-country, and relies on a consolidation of technologies to provide end-to-end payment processing capabilities in a highly configurable setting.

“With its own technology stack that is built, hosted and maintained locally, Network is positioning itself to serve local and regional institutions seeking digital payments capabilities that are relevant for the market and local consumers.”

Some of the first South African customers on Network’s new Tier 1 payments platform include a major MNO and multinational commercial banks.

Citing data from BCG, the company says that payment revenues in the Middle East and Africa are forecast to grow 8.3% from 2021, reaching $2.2-trillion by 2026, while electronic payments are forecast to grow from 12% of POS transactions in 2021 to 21% in 2025.

McKinsey predicts that Africa's electronic payments market will grow by 152% from 2020 to 2025.

“South African businesses are looking to tap into the growth opportunity, but are also looking for a local partner who can optimise their investment efforts,” Network International South Africa co-regional MD Carlo Ricci said in a previous statement.

Currently, just over half of South African consumers still trade in cash and, while innovative and affordable local digital solutions will accelerate the move to digital, locally relevant payment offerings and experience are required for this to be successful.

“An on-soil offering is far more than just a compliance checkbox. More compelling are the upside benefits of getting localisation right. This could be anything from optimised customer experience across channels, to enabling rapid innovation by using larger and more diverse datasets.”

“Our ability to create a hub with all the necessary technology not only allows our clients to offer a better value proposition, it also allows Network to extend our offering to help deliver relevant products to the 80% of underserved consumers on the rest of the continent,” adds Network International Group processing Africa MD and co-head group processing Dr Reda Helal.

A key part of Network International’s ongoing investment has also been to empower a growing local team, and by bolstering its people capacity in South Africa, Network will be able to locally collaborate and co-innovate with local banks and MNOs, where they have access to small and medium-sized enterprises and payment professionals as close as possible to where they operate.

“We have [significant] collective payment knowledge and expertise in South Africa. In hiring the right talent we are confident that our local teams are able to deliver 50% faster with limited dependence on our remote teams, adding meaningful operational gains for local clients and beyond South Africa,” comments Helal.

Network had also improved its broad-based black economic empowerment status from Level 8 in December 2022 to Level 4 by July 2023, with plans to continue improving on this in 2024.

“Our goal has always been to be a proudly South African company. We want to be closer to our clients and be more responsive to their unique needs. Having an on-soil presence enables us to better support local commerce and the economy,” Mer concludes.

Edited by Martin Zhuwakinyu
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

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