Emerging Markets Payments Holdings (EMPH)
Providing payments infrastructure from Cairo to Cape Town
For millions around the world, life would be unthinkable without the convenience and flexibility of plastic cards, ATMs and electronic payments. Yet in Africa and the Middle East the vast majority of transactions are still in cash. Although financial inclusion still has a long was to way to go, the region is amongst the fastest growing payments markets in the world.
Recognising the enormous potential the region offered this growth, Actis established Emerging Markets Payments Holdings (EMPH), a unique ‘buy and build’ platform, and recruited a world-class management team to steer and grow the business.
In July 2010, EMPH made its first investment, the acquisition of Cairo-based Mediterranean Smart Cards Company (MSCC), which provides card issuer processing services to banks across the continent. This was followed in August 2011, by the acquisition of Visa Jordan Cards Services (VJCS). VJCS dominates Jordan’s debit and credit card acquiring and processing markets and operates the country’s national ATM system. In February 2012, EMPH acquired Cape Town-based ACET Processing, the leading processor of credit accounts for retailers across the continent.
These three businesses were rebranded as Emerging Markets Payments (EMP) and we integrated the group’s product lines: card issuing, merchant acquiring and retail payment solutions.
EMPH is a potent symbol of Actis’ confidence in the growth potential of Africa’s payment market. We understood the macro difficulties of the region at that time of investment, but also saw the bigger picture, recognising the resilience of the businesses we were investing in – and the wider transformative benefits that access to payments processing brings to economies, governments and society as whole.
The group now has the broadest footprint of any payments company on the continent. It contracts with 140 financial institutions across 40 countries at more than 30,000 retail outlets and processing for all the major card schemes. EMPH hosts millions of cards, processes more than six transactions a second with billions of dollars worth of transactions a year.
In March 2016 Actis agreed to sell EMP to Network International.