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Equals Group looks to business customers as profitability rises

Snapshot

  • Equals is a payment and FX specialist focused on SMEs
  • Shifting focus toward corporate and B2B customers
  • Changed name from FairFx in June 2019
Cash and cards

Quick facts: Equals Group PLC

Price: 20.75 GBX

AIM:EQLS
Market: AIM
Market Cap: £37.06 m
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Our strategic focus on rationalising supply chain through direct connectivity to payment schemes and other measures are proving successful.

Ian Strafford- Taylor, chief executive

 

What Equals Group does:

Equal Group PLC (LON:EQLS)  is a low-cost payment services provider based in the UK. with products including international payments, corporate expenses, current accounts, credit facilities, currency cards and travel cash.

The company has a cloud-based peer-to-peer payments platform that allows personal and business customers to make payments in different currencies and across a range of foreign exchange products through one system.

The platform facilitates payments in a number of countries via mobile apps, the internet, SMS, wire transfer and debit cards.

 

What it owns:

Since 2017, the group has almost tripled in size in terms of turnover and its operations have broadened into three significant businesses - FairFX, CardOneMoney and City Forex.

On 21 June 2019, the company also revealed that it had received permission from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to provide credit facilities and loan products to its business and retail customers.

The firm said that as it was acting as a broker, the loans would be provided by FCA-authorised third party lenders and there will be no credit risk to the group and the loans would not appear on its balance sheet.

The group bought digital banking products firm, Q-Money, and its e-money licence in 2017. FairFX called that acquisition “an important milestone” in the evolution of the group, with the licence underpinning its digital banking products as well as its direct membership of Mastercard to issue its own bank cards.

The firm acquired international payments and risk management firm City Forex in 2018. Before it was taken over, City Forex had undertaken travel currency operations for FairFX since 2007.

In August, Equals bought FX group Hermes for £2mln.

In November, the company announced that it had purchased UK-based payments firm Casco for an initial sum of £1.72mln which will add 1,000 corporate customers to its roster.

 

How is it doing

In a trading update for 2019, the firm said adjusted earnings (EBITDA) are expected to be 30% higher than 2018, while revenue is forecast to increase by around 20%.

Equals also said that a decision to shift its focus toward “more profitable relationships” with corporate and B2B customers had been delivered, with 52% of 2019 revenues generated from B2B compared to 37% in 2018.

Meanwhile, 71% of revenues were derived from Corporate and B2B compared to 57% last year, which the company said pointed to “stronger B2B revenue growth in 2020”.

Looking ahead, the company said a “more encouraging” political and economic backdrop and a strong pipeline of product enhancements gave it a positive outlook for 2020, with trading in January to date cited as “encouraging”.

Equals added that steps taken in “systems, connectivity and supply chain rationalisation” in 2019 and previous years were expected to yield “further growth in revenues and profits combined with positive cash generation in 2020”.

The company also said it is in a strong position to “complete and integrate further acquisitions” in the new year, with its year-end cash balance standing at £16.4mln. Further gains are also expected in 2020 from realising around £1mln in identified cost saving opportunities.

 

Inflexion points:

  • Revenues for 2019 expected to be 20% higher than 2018
  • New FD was key in growing GVC into a FTSE250 business
  • A five-year deal with Mastercard was signed in September
  • Online credit facility in live beta testing

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