U.K.-based mobile financial provider Monitise announced Monday that it has purchased Turkey-based mobile technology company Pozitron Yazilim, which is focused on its home country and the rest of the Middle East. The move, for $100 million in an all-share deal, gives the growing Monitise a new foothold in that region.
Monitise group chief executive Alastair Lukies said in a statement that Turkey, Europe, and the Middle East are “seeing increasing demand for interoperable mobile money services as payments become more digital by the day.” He added that the acquisition “further reinforces our leading position as a global technology enabler.” In 2012, Monitise bought U.S.-based mobile banking provider Clairmail, assisting its expansion into North America.
The acquisition positions Monitise with access to major clients and partners in the Middle East. Nearly three dozen major enterprises in the region use Pozitron’s mobile solutions, including Turkish Airlines, eBay, ING, and the Turkish answer to Amazon, Hepsiburada.com. Financial service partners include the largest bank in Turkey, Türkiye İş Bankası.
Started in 2000 by Turkish entrepreneuer Fatih İşbecer, Pozitron initially began its life as a software development company but switched in 2005 to an emphasis on mobile technology. Pozitron, which said it is debt free and has no venture backing, will be rebranded with the name of its new parent. İşbecer will become head of Monitise’s Middle East and Africa unit, and Pozitron’s 130 employees will join Monitise.
Mobile banking in Middle East
In a 2011 posting on VentureBeat, İşbecer pointed out that mobile banking solutions in the Middle East in general, and Turkey in particular, are sophisticated and popular. He cited large numbers of young users, a fast growing mobile phone market and the attraction of mobile banking as a way for those without access to traditional banks “to perform transactions through peer-to-peer lending and person-to-person payments.”
Monitise’s services, which are available for Apple, Android, and BlackBerry devices, include SMS banking, card management, messaging alerts, ATM and branch locators, account transfers, proximity payments, peer-to-peer payments, and international remittances. The company said that, before this purchase, it counted 24 million end-users worldwide.
Earlier this month, Monitise announced a three-year deal with OP-Pohjola Group, the Finnish banking group, in which Monitise will provide card payment technologies for the bank’s small business and merchant customers as well as the capability to generate digital tax receipts and view recent transactions. It recently launched a Chinese-language mobile money service in partnership with the Bank of China, mobile network operator PCCW-HKT, and Hong Kong-based ATM network provider JETCO.