We are a leading provider of payment solutions, transaction processing services and financial technology across multiple industries and in a number of emerging and developed economies.
We have developed and market a comprehensive transaction processing solution that encompasses our smart card-based alternative payment system for the unbanked and under-banked populations of developing economies and for mobile transaction channels. Our market-leading system can enable the billions of people globally who generally have limited or no access to a bank account to enter affordably into electronic transactions with each other, government agencies, employers, merchants and other financial service providers. Our universal electronic payment system, or UEPS, and UEPS/EMV derivative discussed below, uses biometrically secure smart cards that operate in real-time but offline, unlike traditional payment systems offered by major banking institutions that require immediate access through a communications network to a centralized computer. This offline capability means that users of our system can conduct transactions at any time with other card holders in even the most remote areas so long as a smart card reader, which is often portable and battery powered, is available. Our off-line systems also offer the highest level of availability and affordability by removing any elements that are costly and are prone to outages. Our latest version of the UEPS technology has been certified by the EuroPay, MasterCard and Visa global standard, or EMV, which facilitates our traditionally proprietary UEPS system to interoperate with the global EMV standard and allows card holders to transact at any EMV-enabled point of sale terminal or automated teller machine, ATM. The UEPS/EMV technology has been deployed on an extensive scale in South Africa through the issuance of MasterCard-branded UEPS/EMV cards to our social welfare grant customers. In addition to effecting purchases, cash-backs and any form of payment, our system can be used for banking, healthcare management, international money transfers, voting and identification.
We also provide secure financial technology solutions and services, by offering transaction processing, financial and clinical risk management solutions to various industries. We have extensive expertise in secure online transaction processing, cryptography, mobile telephony, integrated circuit card (chip/smart card) technologies, and the design and provision of financial and value-added services to our cardholder base.
Our technology is widely used in South Africa today, where we distribute pension and welfare payments, using our UEPS/EMV technology, to over ten million recipient cardholders across the entire country, process debit and credit card payment transactions on behalf of a wide range of retailers through our EasyPay system, process value-added services such as bill payments and prepaid airtime and electricity for the major bill issuers and local councils in South Africa, and provide mobile telephone top-up transactions for all of the South African mobile carriers. We are the largest provider of third-party and associated payroll payments in South Africa through our FIHRST service. We provide financial inclusion services such as microloans, insurance, mobile transacting and prepaid utilities to our cardholder base.
In addition, through KSNET, we are one of the top three value-added network, or VAN, processors in South Korea, and we offer card processing, payment gateway and banking value-added services in that country. We have expanded our card issuing and acquiring capabilities through the acquisition of Transact24 in Hong Kong. Our Masterpayment subsidiary in Germany provides value added payment services to online retailers across Europe. Our XeoHealth service provides funders and providers of healthcare in United States with an on-line real-time management system for healthcare transactions.
Our ZAZOO business unit is responsible for the worldwide technical development and commercialization of our array of web and mobile applications and payment technologies, such as Mobile Virtual Card, or MVC, Chip and GSM licensing and Virtual Top Up, or VTU, and has deployed solutions in many countries, including South Africa, the United Kingdom, Namibia, Nigeria, Malawi, Cameroon, the Philippines, India and Colombia.
All references to "the Company," "we," "us," or "our" are references to Net 1 UEPS Technologies, Inc. and its consolidated subsidiaries, collectively, and all references to "Net1" are to Net 1 UEPS Technologies, Inc. only, except as otherwise indicated or where the context indicates otherwise.
Services for the under-banked
According to the World Bank's Global Findex Database, 54% of adults in developing economies have no bank account. As a result, two billion adults around the world remain entirely excluded from the financial system. This situation arises when banking fees are either too high relative to an individual's income, a bank account provides little or no meaningful benefit or there is insufficient infrastructure to provide financial services economically in the individual's geographic location. We refer to these people as the unbanked and the under-banked. These individuals typically receive wages, welfare benefits, money transfers or loans in the form of cash, and conduct commercial transactions, including the purchase of food and clothing, in cash.
The use of cash, however, presents significant risks. In the case of recipient cardholders, they generally have no secure way of protecting their cash other than by converting it immediately into goods, carrying it with them or hiding it. In cases where an individual has access to a bank account, the typical deposit, withdrawal and account fees meaningfully reduce the money available to meet basic needs. For government agencies and employers, using cash to pay welfare benefits or wages results in significant expense due to the logistics of obtaining that cash, moving it to distribution points and protecting it from theft.
Our target under-banked customer base in most emerging economies, and particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, has limited access to formal financial services and therefore relies heavily on the unregulated informal sector for such services. By leveraging our smart card and mobile technologies, we are able to offer affordable, secure and reliable financial services such as transacting accounts, loans and insurance products to these consumers and alleviate some of the challenges they face in dealing with the informal sector.
With over 30 million cards issued in more than ten developing countries around the world, our track record and scale uniquely positions us to continue further geographical penetration of our technology in additional emerging countries.
Online transaction processing services
The continued global growth of retail credit and debit card transactions is reflected in the April 2016 Nilson Report, according to which worldwide annual general purpose card purchase dollar volume increased 16.4% to $25.7 trillion in 2015, while transaction volume increased by 14.6% to 263.6 billion transactions and cards issued increased by 8.2% to 10.3 billion cards during the same period. General purpose cards include the major card network brands such as MasterCard, Visa, UnionPay and American Express. In South Africa, we operate the largest bank-independent transaction processing service through EasyPay, where we have developed a suite of value-added services such as bill payment, airtime top-up, gift card, money transfer and prepaid utility purchases that we offer as a complete solution to merchants and retailers. In South Korea, through KSNET, we are one of the top three VAN processors, and we provide card processing, banking value-added services and payment gateway functionality to more than 225,000 retailers. Transact24 and Masterpayment are established, growing processors with experienced management teams which offer a variety of value-added online transaction processing services. Our expertise in on-line transaction processing and value-added services provides us with the opportunity to participate globally in this rapidly growing market segment.
The rapid growth of online commerce and the emergence of mobile devices as the preferred access channel for transacting online has created a global opportunity for the provision of secure payment services to online retailers and service providers. Our ZAZOO business unit is focused on providing secure payment solutions for all card-not-present transactions through the application of our MVC and other proprietary solutions.
Despite lacking access to formal financial services, large proportions of the under-banked customer segment own and utilize mobile phones. The World Bank's research has confirmed the rising popularity of using mobile phones to transfer money and for banking that often does not require setting up an account at a brick-and-mortar bank. The World Bank has stated that mobile banking, which allows account holders to pay bills, make deposits or conduct other transactions via text messaging, has rapidly expanded in Sub-Saharan Africa, where traditional banking has been hampered by transportation and other infrastructure problems. The rising popularity of mobile money accounts has pushed overall account penetration from 24% in 2011 to 34% in 2014.
Mobile phones are therefore increasingly viewed as a channel through which this underserved population can gain access to formal financial and other services. Today, most mobile payment solutions offered by various participants in the industry largely provide access to information and basic services, such as allowing consumers to check account balances or transfer funds between existing accounts with the financial institution, but they offer limited functionality and ability to use the mobile device as an actual payments and banking instrument. Our UEPS and MVC solutions are enabled to run on the SIM cards in or as applications on mobile phones and provide our users with secure payment and banking functionality.
Given the lack of broad-based healthcare services in many emerging economies, governments are increasingly focused on driving initiatives to provide affordable and accessible healthcare services to their populations. Similarly, countries such as the United States are embarking on expansive overhauls of their existing healthcare systems.
Through our XeoHealth service we utilize our real-time rules engine and claims processing technology to offer governments, funders and providers of healthcare a comprehensive solution that offers a completely automated healthcare rules adjudication and payment system, reducing both cost and time.