IFC Invests in Net1 to Promote Proven Technology that Expands Financial Services to Poor in Africa and Beyond

IFC Invests in Net1 to Promote Proven Technology that Expands Financial Services to Poor in Africa and Beyond

The FINANCIAL -- IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, and funds managed by IFC Asset Management Company (AMC) on April 11 announced a combined equity investment of $107 million in Net1 UEPS Technologies Inc., an innovative payment solutions and transaction processing services, to expand financial inclusion in Sub-Saharan Africa and beyond. 

IFC promotes financial citizenship to the world’s poorest by backing innovative companies that have proven, scalable and sustainable business models and suitable technology solutions with the intent to reach millions of previously excluded customers. Net1’s core offering is basic, affordable financial services to low-income customers and rural populations that are often excluded from established formal financial services. It provides solutions that are card and mobile based and that are interoperable with the globally recognized and widely available credit card payment systems. Many Net1 financial technologies are patented, including Virtual Card, Funds Transfer System, Variable PIN, and Emergency Finger, according to IFC.

Atul Mehta, IFC Director of Telecoms, Media and Technology, said: “Net1 has created impressive propriety technology for the delivery of services and demonstrated its effectiveness in South Africa. IFC and IFC AMC’s funds’ investments will help Net1 expand regionally, especially into African countries where there is limited banking infrastructure and availability of financial services for the poorest segments of the population.” 

IFC has been tracking for some time the company’s development in South Africa, its primary market, and sees the potential for applying its technology to expand reach of services elsewhere. Net1’’s management has more than 30 years’ experience creating solutions designed to operate in areas where infrastructure is basic or non-existent and can still be used in areas where connection and data options operate at the highest standards. 

IFC has been investing in similar disruptive technologies around the world to help expand access to financial services. As of March 2016, IFC has invested about $180 million in 26 FinTech companies around the world servicing over 220 million people. This is on top of billions of dollars already invested in its successful, decades-long program in support of traditional banks and microfinance institutions. 

Serge Belamant, CEO of Net1, said: “We are proud to have been recognized by IFC as a company that can make a difference to the live style of millions of the most vulnerable. IFC’s investment recognizes our Company’s Net1’s acheivements, innovative and disruptive technologies, and our business model. The investment endorses our management’s integrity, transparency and focused drive towards making a positive difference to the disadvantaged citizens of the world.”. 

Gavin E.R. Wilson, CEO of IFC Asset Management Company, said: “Our investment in Net1 recognizes the company’s demonstrated ability to provide efficient payments services to the unbanked and underbanked in South Africa while innovating in commercially viable ways. Our goal is to help Net1 use its technology to broaden its product offering and expand its customer base to other countries.” 

Net1 is listed on the United States NASDAQ stock exchange and the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.