MasterCard is investing $100 million in Airtel Mobile Commerce, not long after the telco received $200 million from The Rise Fund, the global impact investing platform of leading alternative investment firm TPG.
The transaction values Airtel Africa’s mobile money business at $2.65bn on a cash and debt free basis.
The proceeds from the transaction will be used to reduce Group debt and invest in network and sales infrastructure in the respective operating countries.
MasterCard will hold a minority stake in Airtel Mobile Commerce, in line with Airtel Africa’s plan to monetize the mobile money business by selling up to a 25% stake in the unit.
Airtel Africa provides digital mobile financial services across the Group’s 14 operating countries including Nigeria where it offers the mobile money services through a a partnership with a local bank. It has however applied for its own mobile banking license in Nigeria.
Besides the investment, the Group and MasterCard have extended commercial agreements and signed a new commercial framework which will deepen their partnerships across numerous geographies and areas including card issuance, payment gateway, payment processing, merchant acceptance and remittance solutions, amongst others.
Airtel Africa is exploring listing Airtel Mobile Commerce within four years. Airtel Mobile Commerce is currently the holding company for many of Airtel Africa’s mobile money operations, which operate under the Airtel Money brand. The subsidiary operates in 13 countries in Africa, offering mobile wallet deposit and withdrawals, merchant and commercial payments, loans and savings, virtual credit cards, and international money transfers.
In the Airtel Africa’s most recent reported results for Q3, the mobile money service segment (corresponding to all the businesses that are intended to be transferred to AMC BV) delivered a strong operational performance:
Generated revenue of $110m ($440m annualized), and underlying EBITDA of $54m ($216m annualized) at a margin of 48.7%.
Year on year revenue growth for the quarter was 41.1% in constant currency, largely driven by 29% growth in the customer base to 21.5m, and 9.7% ARPU growth.
Growth in transaction value was 53.0% to $12.8bn ($51bn annualized).
Airtel Africa is targeting a public listing of Airtel Mobile Commerce BV (AMC BV) within the next four years.
Mobile money has become a giant vehicle in the African booming fintech space which has ignited investment race between digital payment firms.
MasterCard has an existing relationship with Airtel, the new investment in Airtel Mobile Commerce underscores the push among payment companies to grab as much share as possible in the African fintech market.