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Actis in Middle East credit card deal

The emerging markets-focused firm has set sights on the growth potential of Jordan’s payment market.

Emerging markets specialist Actis has made its second foray into the payment processing sector by acquiring Visa Jordan Card Services Company (VJCS) for $87 million.

The investment, which followed the management buyout of Cairo-based Mediterranean Smart Cards Company (MSCC) in July last year for $30 million, further strengthens the firm’s payment platform Emerging Markets Payments Holdings (EMPH), according to a statement.

“The move from cash to cards is one of the most exciting developments in emerging market consumer behaviour,” Rick Phillips, partner at Actis, said in the statement.

In fact, the potential of Jordan’s payment market is what has attracted Actis. The statement noted that consumer habits in the country have not yet caught up to the extent that they have in other emerging markets, and that card spend is only 5 percent of personal consumption expenditure.

Following the acquisition, Actis aims to develop EMPH into a regional payment business in Africa and the Middle East. EMPH will continue to have a buy-and-build strategy.

VJCS dominates Jordan’s debit and credit card acquiring and processing markets, owning 80 percent of the point-of-sale terminals in the country and process all Visa point-of-sale transactions as well as inter-bank ATM transactions, according to the statement.

The investment was made from Actis’ third emerging markets vehicle, which closed on $2.9 billion in December 2008.