Monitise, the UK mobile payments technology company and owner of Markco Media (including MyVoucherCodes.co.uk), has had its former £1 billion value slashed following an acquisition by US fin-tech provider Fiserv for just £70 million.
At its peak in 2014, the company enjoyed valuations of up to £2 billion thanks to trailblazing technology that linked banks and mobile operators, creating a business that was capable of handling “billions of dollars” in mobile partners, purchases and money transfers.
In the same year, Monitise made its play for Markco Media and its online discounting subsidiaries MyVoucherCodes.co.uk and Last Second Ticketing Limited, acquiring the group for a rumoured £55 million, and planning to use Markco’s e-commerce service expertise to warm more consumers to the idea of mobile purchasing.
Despite this, the company witnessed heavy losses in 2014 and end of year financials saw its value drop to £326 million and shareholders urged to sell. Growing competition from free mobile payment systems offered by the likes of Alphabet and Apple, as well as the loss of backing from key partner Visa as it sold its shares to set up its own mobile payments product, were no small contributors to the group’s inability to turn a profit.
Setback after setback
Despite tentative interest from a number of finance groups - FIS Global and Temenos and an early Fiserv - looking to return the mobile payments company to full force, attempts to sell the business in 2015 fell flat, combined with a reluctance by Monitise to offer a complete sale in the belief that the outlook could be turned around.
The ongoing downwards spiral in share value saw a brief ray of light in 2016 with the potential sale of MyVoucherCodes.co.uk, but deciding that “greater shareholder value” could be achieved, Monitise made the decision to retain the incentive publisher business.
A 7% decline in stock followed, leading CEO Lee Cameron to enforce a £3 million per month expenditure limit for Q2 2016, alongside cost cutting through “stabilising and restructuring”, stressing that it was “absolutely” not his expectation that there would be any further reductions in what was now a £66 million valuation.
While yesterday’s final sale value of £70 million to Fiserv proves those actions to be of substance, Cameron spoke of “mixed emotions” regarding the sale of a business that had seen early success, adding that Monitise had been viewed as a “grandfather” of the rapidly developing startup-lead fin-tech sector.
Cameron also admitted that the company’s cloud-based Finkit technology - that it had placed much faith in future business on - had failed to appeal to the large financial companies it was geared at providing solutions for, owed to its “tumultuous history” and “balance sheet that does not tick the box”. Not, it should be added, through lack of confidence in the company’s pioneering technology.