Galway and Wicklow fintech PerfectCard acquired by EML for €6m

22 Oct 2018

From left: PerfectCard CTO Norma Carty with CEO and founder Nikki Evans. Image: SON Photographic

Major expansion on the cards as Galway becomes EML’s innovation hub in Europe.

Australian payments giant EML Payments has acquired a majority stake in Irish fintech PerfectCard. The acquisition will result in the expansion of PerfectCard in Ireland, with plans to increase the number of full-time employees over the next few years.

‘The heart and mind of the company has to remain in Ireland and I don’t see that changing’

The transaction, which sees EML acquire 74.86pc of PerfectCard in a deal worth more than €6m, received Central Bank approval in the past two weeks.

A vision for Irish fintech

PerfectCard was founded in Wicklow by entrepreneur Nikki Evans initially to provide gift cards for Irish retailers. The company’s suite of products now includes employee reward and company expense tools.

PerfectCard has two bases in Ireland – in Wicklow and Galway – and supports more than 50 programmes within Ireland and the UK, including customers such as Dell, Deloitte, Allianz and PepsiCo.

“The deal is an important move for both PerfectCard and EML,” Evans explained. “It allows EML to self-issue regulated payment products across the EU and gives them access to our innovative expense and corporate incentive solutions that they can grow in their existing markets. For us at PerfectCard, it will accelerate our growth and has opened up a huge amount of opportunities – for both the company and its employees.”

Established in 2011, EML (formerly EMerchants Limited) is a payment solutions company listed on the Australian Securities Exchange. Headquartered in Brisbane, EML operates in 21 countries, with offices in Kansas City, Stockholm, Birmingham and now Ireland. In its last financial year, EML processed A$6.7bn worth of payments and it has a market capitalisation of A$400m.

“We have grown internationally by acquisition, and in every case we look for companies with a track record of success, a great team and a leader or founder who wants to sell their business and end that first part of the journey, and then join us for the next part of the journey as we become truly global,” said EML CEO Tom Cregan.

“We think PerfectCard exemplifies all of those things. Nikki and her team are great to have on board and we’re going to be working on some exciting initiatives in Europe in the years to come.”

As part of the acquisition, PerfectCard’s base in Galway will now become EML’s global hub for technology and innovation. The expected growth in the business will result in an increase in employment in Galway over the next two years. Galway was chosen because of the availability of IT development talent and the environment created by IDA Ireland in the region. Both PerfectCard and EML are understood to be working with the Irish Government on this initiative.

Any new jobs will be in addition to the 20 people already working in Galway and at PerfectCard’s HQ in Kilcoole, Co Wicklow.

“I had dreamed down the road of doing an IPO, so this deal has short-circuited that,” Evans said. “I have been CEO of a private company and now we will be a subsidiary of a publicly listed company, so it’s a whole new challenge for me but one I am really looking forward to. That extra support that EML will bring to us at PerfectCard will be immense.

“As a company, our headquarters will very much remain in Ireland. While we will have a majority shareholder somewhere else, the heart and mind of the company has to remain in Ireland and I don’t see that changing.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years