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Eye on Acquisitions: Fiserv To Buy Monitise; Pin4 Takes Controlling Stake in HalCash International
June 13, 2017

By Jim Daly and Kevin Woodward

Financial-institution processor Fiserv Inc. reported Tuesday that it plans to buy United Kingdom-based Monitise plc, a faded star of the early mobile-banking and payments era that still has some valuable technology, for £70 million ($89 million) in cash. And HalCash North America, which goes by the brand name Pin4, took a controlling interest in Spain’s HalCash International, developer of technology for cardless ATM cash withdrawals using mobile phones.

Brookfield, Wis.-based Fiserv said Monitise’s portfolio of digital services will help it expand its suite of technologies that enable financial institutions to meet “rapidly evolving consumer expectations for financial services.” Monitise’s technology includes FINkit, a cloud-based service for banks and credit unions that want to quickly roll out their digital strategies.

“Monitise has been a global pioneer and innovator in digital banking for more than a decade,” Jeffery Yabuki, Fiserv’s president and chief executive, said in a news release. “Combining its talented associates and advanced technologies with leading digital solutions from Fiserv will expand our clients’ ability to provide differentiated experiences to their customers.”

Monitise CEO Lee Cameron said in the release that “Fiserv is well-positioned to carry this business forward given its strength in digital banking and extensive client network. Following the completion of this transaction, we are confident that Monitise clients will be served well by Fiserv and its long-standing commitment to creating value for its clients.”

Fiserv’s offer of 2.90 pence per share represents a 26% premium over Monitise’s Monday closing price of 2.30 per share. The companies expect the deal, which needs approval from Monitise shareholders, to close in the third quarter.

Founded in 2003, Monitise was valued at £2 billion at its peak in 2014, according to Reuters. Visa Inc. made a minority investment the company in 2009, and in 2011 Monitise and Visa forged a deal to bring mobile top-ups and transit ticketing to international markets. In 2012 Monitise bought U.S.-based mobile-banking and payments provider Clairmail Inc., a deal that brought many new big-bank clients to Monitise. But the coming of mobile-payment services from Apple Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google unit cut into Monitise’s revenues. The company put itself up for sale in 2015 but failed to find a buyer, Reuters said.

Meanwhile, Chatham, N.J.-based HalCash North America, which provides a cardless-cash ATM service under the Pin4 moniker, said Tuesday that is buying a majority stake in Madrid-based HalCash International, the developer and owner of the HalCash system that’s enabled at 8,000 Spanish ATMs. The move should enable a faster global expansion, HalCash North America said in a press release. Terms were not disclosed.

Launched in 2015, Pin4 enables cardless cash disbursement for transactions such as person-to-person transfers, emergency cash, disaster relief, and consumer promotions and rewards.

In the P2P example, a consumer walks into a participating money-services business location and initiates a money transfer over the counter and tells the clerk it’s a Pin4 transaction. The recipient receives a text message with the dollar amount, a four-digit Pin4 Code, and a link to a participating ATM-locator service. Concurrently, the sender and the recipient will have established a secret code specific to the recipient.

At the ATM, the recipient selects the Pin4 option on the device’s screen, followed by the recipient’s mobile-phone number and the amount of the transaction. Then he enters the four-digit Pin4 code supplied in the text message followed by the secret code provided by the sender. Upon authorization, cash is dispensed.

Pin4-enabled ATMs are available in Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles, and New York City. ATM deployer Payment Alliance International supports the service, too.

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