In October, a prepaid debit card called Verve launched in the market. The launch of the card also marked the announcement of a partnership with KCB Bank, to allow card holders link their bank accounts with KCB accounts. The card allows users to make payments on POS terminals, internet payments as well as cash withdrawals.
The card further offers value added services such as airtime top ups and payment of bills. Card holders would also accumulate royalty points for usage, which are redeemable for various items. The launch of the card followed a re-branding exercise marking InterSwitch’s official entry into the East African market.
Who is InterSwitch East Africa?
Nigerian payments company Interswitch Transnational Holdings acquired a majority stake in Paynet Group. The acquisition was a mixture of cash and stock with Paynet’s shareholders effectively becoming shareholders of the Interswitch Group. InterSwitch effectively owned 85% of Paynet Group, the holding company of PesaPoint.
The acquisition was meant to give Interswitch an entry point into the East African market while, Paynet Group sought a partner with experience to allow the firm broaden its footprint into the growing segments in the Kenyan market including transport, health, government and county payments. InterSwitch previously acquired Bankom in Uganda in 2010.
InterSwitch is 70% owned by London-based private equity group Helios Investment Partners LLP. Helios acquired the stake in 2011 for $96 million (Kshs 9.8 Billion). The company launched in 2002 seeking to offer transaction switching and electronic payments solutions. It grew its offerings to include management of payment infrastructure including digital payments as well as offering transaction services with a target at the African continent.