Saturday , March 23, 2019

Paysafe’s Proposed Deal for iPayment Will Make the U.K. Firm a Top Player in U.S. Acquiring

Paysafe Holdings UK Ltd. hasn’t been shy about building scale via acquisitions, and on Thursday it announced one of its biggest deals yet in the U.S. merchant-acquiring business. It expects to close by the end of June on a transaction that will bring into its fold iPayment Holdings Inc., a Westlake, Calif.-based independent sales organization that serves more than 137,000 merchants and processes in excess of $28 billion in volume annually.

Terms of the deal, which Paysafe said is subject to regulatory approvals, were not disclosed, and the companies will continue to operate independently until closing, Paysafe said.

“iPayment is an excellent strategic fit with Paysafe in terms of its comprehensive product offering, customer-centric focus and overall strategic vision,” said Joel Leonoff, president and chief executive of London-based Paysafe, in a statement. “By bringing our two organizations together, we will be able to further strengthen our wide-ranging payments processing suite and expose it to a broader audience of merchants and consumers.”

A spokesperson for Paysafe would not disclose or comment on details of the agreement. “Paysafe has been on an acquisition path for the past couple of years and iPayment was a strong strategic fit,” she said by email, echoing Leonoff’s statement. A spokesperson for iPayment directed inquiries to Paysafe.

Paysafe has shown a willingness to open its wallet to pick up merchant-processing companies in the U.S. market that serve small and medium-size businesses. Last year, it laid out $470 million in cash to buy Shenandoah, Texas-based Merchants’ Choice Payment Solutions, which processed for 60,000 merchants generating $14 billion in volume.

With the addition of iPayment, Paysafe will rank as one of the five largest non-bank payment processors in the United States, the company said Thursday. The importance of such size can’t be underestimated, says Jared Drieling, senior director business intelligence at The Strawhecker Group, an Omaha, Neb.-based consultancy. Scale will help bring efficiencies in serving what has proved to be a high-margin U.S. small-merchant market segment.

“From an acquiring perspective the [small-and-medium-size] acquiring market is highly profitable when [compared] to larger-sized merchant categories,” Drieling tells Digital Transactions News by email. He estimates small merchants generate 91 basis points of net revenue per transaction compared to 28 basis points for merchants with $10 million or more in annual sales.

But for that reason, the small-merchant market has drawn a bevy of processors, magnifying the importance of economies of scale for processors like Paysafe. “The SMB acquiring market is fiercely competitive with a wide range of players including … market-share leaders like First Data and Vantiv [now Worldpay] as well as newer entrants such as Square,” Drieling says.

Paysafe was itself acquired in December when private-equity firms Blackstone Group LP and CVC Capital Partners took the firm private in a deal valued at $3.89 billion.

Todd Linden, who serves as chief executive of Paysafe’s payment processing division for North America, will now head a group enlarged by the addition of iPayment. OB Rawls, iPayment’s chief executive, and Robert Purcell, the company’s chief financial officer, will remain as “key members of Paysafe’s payments leadership team,” the Paysafe announcement says.

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