eTranzact seeks approval for a HoldCo to unlock key business units

eTranzact seeks approval for a HoldCo to unlock key business units

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NGX-listed eTranzact International Plc will restructure its business and adopt a holding company structure if it secures regulatory approval from the Central Bank. The 21-year-old payments provider, valued at ₦57 billion, will likely use a HoldCo structure to raise capital for its best-performing business units.

“It is entirely up to the CBN. We have been ready since 2023,” Niyi Toluwalope, the company’s managing director and CEO, said in an exclusive interview with TechCabal.

Holding company structures are not new; at least two African telcos have spun off their mobile money business in the last few years and have raised money for those subsidiaries. “You can also raise money for specific things in specific subsidiaries,” said Toluwalope.

“The HoldCo structure will lead to a stronger focus on profitability and possible expansion plans into new markets,” said one fintech expert who asked not to be named. It could also result in increased operating costs for the company.

According to its financial report, eTranzact’s primary business is switching and was responsible for 95% of its 2023 revenue. Its other revenue lines are payment solution services, mobile money operations, and value-added services. 

Further breakdown of its revenue showed that it earned ₦24 billion from mobile airtime sales. Yet the company does not want to be known as an airtime collector. 

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“We aggregate for the telcos because the telcos want to use trusted platforms to sell airtime. It is not a growth product. We do it because we exist. Our growth drivers are switching and merchant acquiring. The future revenue earner is our direct-to-consumer platform,” Toluwalope said. 

eTranzact has introduced a range of products such as PocketMoni—a fintech app for consumers, Corporate Pay for streamlined salary payments, PayOutlet designed to allow merchants to collect payments from customers of banks in eTranzact’s network, SwitchIT—a transaction processing technology, and Credo—a payment gateway tailored for social commerce. 

The company claims to process 20 million transactions daily and reported ₦33 billion in revenue in 2023.

eTranzact competes with several businesses. In switching, for instance, it competes with fintechs like Zone and bank-backed newcomers like Hydrogen, the payments company of Access Corporation, the holding company of Access Bank. Access Bank is eTranzact’s biggest shareholder. 

Ultimately, the company will focus on delivering value to shareholders. Last year, eTranzact’s share price was up over 171.4%, and shares were trading at ₦6.25 at the time of this report. 

But its Holdco ambition could face a roadblock, said one financial services insider. The CBN recently told payment company leaders it would no longer allow them to restructure to holding companies, an industry insider with direct knowledge of the meeting told TechCabal. 

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Based on its success in payments, eTranzact is betting big on mobile money. The thinking is that Nigeria’s unbanked population presents a huge opportunity for market penetration. Only 61.4 million Nigerians have registered Bank Verification Numbers (BVNs) as of April 2024, according to data from the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS).

“There is still a large number of people that use cash. When you see how transaction dynamics can change overnight then you understand that it isn’t about mobile money, it is about banking from the unbanked,” said Toluwalope.

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