Dubai: The gradual but steady migration of payments from cash to cards and other electronic modes is opening up huge business opportunities for Network International which leads the Middle East and Africa region by far with a combined revenue, five times larger than its closest competitor.

The company processed more than 600 million transactions in 2015, amounting to Dh91 billion in acquiring volumes. Currently only about 25 per cent of transactions in the region are card-based, representing an unprecedented opportunity for growth as increasing innovation in digital payments propels the migration from cash to cards.

Targeted initially at the UAE and the GCC markets, Network in 2013 launched a GCC-based domestic payment product, Mercury. The company is a major player in the international remittance industry and owns a 100 per cent stake in TimesofMoney Ltd, a leading global online remittance and digital payments company facilitating cross-border remittances and domestic payments in emerging economies.

Network promises Mercury to be cost effective for all stakeholders. The three stakeholders in the value chain are financial institutions that issue the card, the merchants that accept the card and the consumers who use them.

“For financial institutions the advantage is that they will pay much less, for merchants their cost of taking a transaction is going to be cheaper compared to the traditional foreign cards like Visa and MasterCard. From [a] consumer’s point of view, we will ensure that their acceptance is full and will come loaded with a host of local benefits,” said Bhairav Trivedi, CEO of Network International.

The Mercury platform will enable the acceptance of these cards at all Network International POS terminals, and ATM’s of participating member banks, across the UAE.

“We are starting with GCC focus. We have also got a tie-up with RuPay, India’s largest domestic payment, which will mean cross-acceptance across India and the Gulf region. Eventually we will take this to Africa,” said Trivedi.

As the Fintech revolution is taking the financial services industry by storm, Network does not want to be left behind.

“Our remittance business out of India has an entire Fintech arm. That has helped us to enter into spaces like mobile payment solutions. We are providing mPay and e-commerce solutions in a number of geographies. Visa provides a mobile solution across Africa called mVisa. We are driving that entire value proposition,” he said.

The solution is now live in Rwanda, Egypt and will soon go live in Kenya.

“For us Fintech is not developing any next-generation product or technology. It is about taking what is already developed and effectively applying to our markets,” said Trivedi.

Network’s India operations will focus on technology and back office operations.

“India is naturally inclined to technology. But when we look at optimal customer service, it is difficult to serve the Arab-speaking region out of India. With the acquisition of EMP we have a larger outfit in Egypt to fill this gap,” he said.

The home market of UAE will continue to remain prime focus of new initiatives. Network is a key partner of Dubai’s Smart Government initiatives.

“We are the core driver of the Dubai e-government and Smart Government initiatives, as the backbone of payment processing. Apart from the Dubai’s smart government initiative, we are also involved with Abu Dhabi’s e-government initiatives,” he said.