Strategy Note /

10 listed EM names writing the fast-growing payments infrastructure story

  • We highlight 10 emerging markets companies with exposure to this structural growth sector

  • They are benefitting from large networks, strategic partnerships and strong sponsors

  • Some are further enhancing their growth potential through acquisitions, new products or geographical expansion

10 listed EM names writing the fast-growing payments infrastructure story
Rohit Kumar
Rohit Kumar

Global Financials/Thematics

Rahul Shah
Rahul Shah

Head of Corporate & Thematic Research

Tellimer Research
7 May 2021
Published byTellimer Research

In our earlier report, we discussed how the fast-growing EM digital payments infrastructure sector is attracting investor interest and highlighted 10 EM-focused listed payment infrastructure companies with high growth potential. Here, we take a more detailed look at these names.


GHL Systems (Malaysia)

Profile: GHL Systems is a leading ASEAN payment services provider with key operations in Malaysia (80% of revenue), the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia and Australia. The group operates three main segments: Transaction Payment Acquisition (online payments gateway, card payments, wallet services, etc., 59% of group revenue), Shared Services (sales and rental of EDC (electronic data capture) terminals, 36% of revenue) and Solution Services (sale and maintenance of hardware and software products, 4%). GHL Systems manages and oversees more than 380,000 payment touchpoints across ASEAN that enable payments through credit card, debit card, e-wallets, contactless payment, prepaid credit top-up and other digital payment channels. The firm added ShopeePay mobile wallet functionality to its range of payment solutions in March. In the same month, GHL Systems also partnered with fintech firm Split.

Recent performance: GHL’s 2020 performance was hit by the pandemic as its revenue decreased 4% to MYR334mn (US$81mn), with the decline focused on Malaysia and Thailand. Transaction Payment Acquisition segment revenue decreased 3%, Shared Services decreased 8% and Solution Services increased 25%. The EBITDA margin decreased to 15% from 21% in 2019. The merchant footprint grew to 146k (from 139k in 2019). The emergence of QR-based e-wallets has resulted in new domestic e-wallet players, especially in Malaysia. Although this increases competition in the e-wallet business, it bodes well for GHL’s digital payments infrastructure services as it increases its competitive edge in offering merchants an integrated omnichannel payment solution.

Hightech Payment Systems (Morocco)

Profile: Hightech Payment Systems (HPS) was established in 1995 in Morocco and is currently operational in more than 90 countries, with most of this in Africa (38% of revenue) and Europe (32% of revenue). Its flagship product is PowerCARD, which is a suite of software solutions that covers the entire payments value chain and enables payments through HPS’s omnichannel solution. The company earns revenue from the initial subscription to these systems; it also provides subscription upselling, maintenance and licence services to its customers. Over 400 institutions (such as NDB Bank, BMCE Bank) are using PowerCARD, which generates 71% of revenue. Other activities include Processing (switching services, 14% of revenue) and Services (control and performance of information systems, with notable expertise in software testing and qualification, 15% of revenue). HPS is focused on innovation; it invested MAD93mn (US$10mn) in research and development in 2020, equivalent to 13% of its revenue (and up 15% yoy).

Recent performance: 2020 revenue grew 1.2% to MAD728mn (US$80mn): Solutions (ie PowerCARD) revenue declined 2%, Processing saw 47% growth, and Services revenue fell 8% due to delays in contract renewals. Operating profit decreased by 5%, with operating margins declining 110bps yoy to 16.5% in 2020 from 17.6%. The bottom-line decline was 10% (MAD84mn, US$9mn). Moving forward, the company is targeting somewhat stable revenue and accelerated diversification of the business.

EM payments infrastructure share price performance

KG Mobilians

Profile: KG Mobilians Co Ltd, a company based in Seoul, South Korea, was founded by Erez Sperling in March 2000. It is mainly engaged in the development and provision of wired and wireless payments services. More than 70% of the firm’s revenue is generated by providing payments solutions for e-commerce (such as mobile phone payments solutions, wired phone payments solutions, credit card payment solutions, account transfer services, prepaid card services and wireless online billing solutions).

Recent performance: KG Mobilians' 2020 revenue increased by 40% yoy to KRW269.0bn (US$238mn), while its net profit increased 25% to KRW23bn (US$20mn). The main driver of this growth was the rise in the mobile payments market, with the Covid-19 crisis increasing demand for online services.


Profile: Kginicis Co Ltd is a Seoul-based company engaged in global payments gateways (PG), B2C electronic payments (INIpay), value-added network (VAN) services, easy payments (Kpay), and B2B electronic warranty services (INIB2B). Within its payments business, the company offers a broad range of services, including cards, point of sale (POS) equipment, merchant accounting and others. Furthermore, the firm has partnerships with online shopping malls, telecommunication carriers, public institutions and other entities. It has its largest market share (of 27%) in payment gateways. The Kginicis's transaction volume per year is 4.8bn, with a value of KRW23trn (US$20bn) in 2019. Kginicis benefits from holding the largest number of payment services and technology patents in the industry in South Korea.

Recent performance: The company recorded a yoy increase in revenue of 8% to KRW810bn (US$718mn) in 2020. However, net income declined by almost 7% to KRW47bn (US$42mn), mainly due to higher domestic income tax expenses.

Listed EM payment infrastructure companies

Korean Information and Communication

Profile: Korean Information and Communication (KICC) Co Ltd, formed in 1986, is based in Seoul, South Korea. The company provides payments gateway solutions for online businesses and combines its systems with payment method providers to cater for a wide range of customers and to benefit merchants' top lines. KICC’s payment gateway business operates under the “EasyCheck”, “EasyPad”, “EasyPOS” and “EasyCash" brands. The company also offers a wide variety of VAN services, such as card management services and easy banking. KICC focuses on innovation and developing its services to expand use cases in both the online and offline worlds. It works with fintechs to help them provide their customers with high-quality services.

Recent performance: KICC’s revenue declined 0.7% to KRW495bn (US$439mn) in 2020. The reduction in net income was more pronounced, at 56%, to KRW11bn (US$10mn). The main reason for this was the c4ppts drop in gross margins.


Profile: Seoul-headquartered NHN KCP Corporation (formerly known as KGP Co Ltd), was founded in December 1994. Its primary offerings include payments gateway and VAN services. The company’s products are used in credit card, e-commerce, e-coin payment, electronic finance and internet payments, as well as for internet electronic gift certificates, mail-order sales and online and offline lending transactions. In addition, NHN KCP provides mobile phone payment services and smartphone payment services and supports e-commerce environments. It has the largest market share in internet shopping transactions and in online VAN services in Korea.

Recent performance: Revenue grew 33% in 2020 to KRW625bn (US$554mn) and net income increased by 22% to KRW30.0bn (US$27mn). The company’s sales are split across four business segments: payment gateways (88%), offline payments (6%), value-added network (4%), and online to offline (0.3%).

NHN KCP’s payments gateway (PG) and value-added network (VAN) services


Source: Company Website

PagSeguro (Brazil)

Profile: PagSeguro, launched in 2006, is mainly an online/mobile payment-based e-commerce service in Brazil, where it is the pioneer and market leader. The company is a payments facilitator for entrepreneurs, sellers and buyers; any person or entity can create an account on the platform through which they can receive and make payments easily and safely. PagSeguro provides different payment options to buyers and sellers such as credit cards, online debits, bank slips, deposit accounts and transfers between PagSeguro accounts. PagSeguro belongs to Universo Online (UOL) group, the largest internet portal in Brazil, as per Ibope Nielsen Online. PagBank is offering its clients access to products such as third-party investment funds, marketplaces and home insurance. It has also acquired a minority stake in Boletoflex, the “Buy now pay later” specialist for online transactions.

Recent performance: Total revenue grew 19% in 2020 to BRL6.8bn (US$1,204mn). Revenue from transaction activities (66% of total revenue) grew 34% to BRL4.5bn. Financial income revenue (32% of revenue, derived by paying discounted amounts to merchants for earlier than scheduled payments) grew by 7%. Profits declined 5.5% yoy to BRL1.3bn (US$230mn). The active merchant base grew by 32% to 7mn. The company launched PagBank (digital banking services including payments, lending, etc.) in Q2 19 and reached 7.9mn active users by year-end 2020.

EM digital payments infrastructure: stock valuation metrics

Rendong Holdings

Profile: Rendong Holdings Co Ltd, formerly known as Meson Fintech Co Ltd, is a Beijing-based company that helps fintechs provide their customers with services such as third-party payments, commercial factoring, supply chain management, financial leasing and internet loans. The company is developing innovations in areas such as commercial finance, technology finance and industrial finance with the goal of becoming the benchmark for the diversified financial technology industry, initiating upstream and downstream third-party payments-related business. Rendong Holdings has established subsidiaries in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Hong Kong and other major cities, enabling it to provide broad service coverage across China. Although the firm’s current focus is on the domestic market, it has plans to expand overseas.

Recent performance: The company had 9M 20 revenue of CNY1.8bn (US$275mn). However, even after a yoy increase of 43% in Q3 20 revenue to CNY472mn (US$72mn), the bottom line has still declined by 111% (a loss of CNY1.9mn (US$0.3mn)) as compared with a gain of CNY18mn (US$3mn) in Q3 19. Sales by business division in 2019 were split as follows: third-party payments (60%), supply chain management (36%), commercial factoring (2%), financial leasing (1%) and others (1%).

Revenue KPIs for selected EM payment infrastructure companies

Stoneco Ltd (Brazil)

Profile: Stoneco was incorporated in 2014 and listed on Nasdaq in 2018. It is a leading provider of financial technology solutions in Brazil (mainly in the payments area) to empower merchants to conduct electronic commerce seamlessly across in-store, online and mobile channels. Stoneco operates five companies: i) Stone – primarily focused on providing POS solutions for accepting payments; ii) – which helps small business owners accept online payments quickly; iii) mundipagg, a full-featured e-commerce gateway that connects e-commerce sites to the payment network of their choice; iv) Equals – a smart financial management platform structured to serve companies dealing with multiple payment methods with full transparency; and v) Cappta – which can be installed on any tablet, cell phone or computer and is integrated with POS devices, enabling businesses to work with various brands, issue receipts and automate their payments system to get more control over sales. The company hopes to secure over 1mn active clients in 2021. It is also budgeting for a 60% increase in headcount for its technology, commercial and operational teams this year. Furthermore, in November 2020, Stoneco approved the acquisition of 35.7mn shares (hitting 19% basic ownership as of February) in Linx, a company specialising in retail management systems.

Recent performance: Total revenue rose 29% yoy in 2020 to BRL3.3bn (US$587mn). Transaction Activities and Services revenue, which contributes 34% of total revenue, grew by 49% yoy, while Financial Income (earned by paying discounted amounts to merchants for early payments, 50% of revenue) rose by 28% yoy. The primary driver of the higher revenue was the strong growth in total payment volume, which increased by +60% to BRL64bn (US$11bn) yoy in Q4 20 compared with the prior-year period. Profits increased 4% yoy to BRL837mn (US$148mn). In Q1 20 Stoneco launched a new product, TON, to service micro-merchants with a complete ecosystem, including cash-in/cash-out solutions, digital accounts and financial products.

Yeahka (China)

Profile: Yeahka is a payments-based technology platform in China providing payment and business services to merchants and consumers. Yeahka’s platform provides merchants with one-stop access to a wide variety of payment methods and channels; its QR-code payment services support over 500 issuers covering most of the e-wallets in China, including industry leaders Alipay and WeChat Pay. Apart from payment services, the company also provides technology-enabled business services, including: i) merchant SaaS products, helping businesses improve their operational efficiency; ii) marketing services, allowing merchants to effectively reach their target markets; and iii) fintech services, which cater to customers’ financial needs. Yeahka conducted its IPO in June 2020, and it plans to use the proceeds for: i) sales and marketing expenses to increase its customer base in China and overseas; ii) expanding its technology-enabled business services line; iii) enhancing research and boosting its technological capabilities; and iv) working capital needs. The company facilitated transactions of cRMB569mn in 2020 (US$87mn, +15% yoy). Furthermore, the People’s Bank of China has increased barriers to entry in the third-party payments industry, which should prove beneficial to Yeahka’s future growth.

Recent performance: Revenue grew 1.5% in 2020 to RMB2.3bn (US$405mn), driven mainly by the growth of tech-enabled business (162% yoy), while the payments services business revenue declined 12%. Within the tech-enabled business segment, marketing services (16% of revenue) grew by 234%, SaaS products (1% of revenue) grew by 100%, and fintech services (3% of revenue) rose by 30%. Operating margins decreased slightly by 25bps to 15.4% because of the rise in operating expenses.   

EM payment infrastructure companies operating KPIs

Acknowledgment: We would like to thank Rabail Adwani for his assistance with this report.