Report: Network International Close to $700M Mashreq Payments Deal

Visa, Mashreq Team On UAE SMB Onboarding

Network International is reportedly in advanced talks to purchase UAE lender Mashreqbank’s payment business.

The deal could value Mashreq’s payments operation at as high as $700 million, Bloomberg reported Wednesday (Feb. 1), citing unnamed sources.

A spokesperson for Network International declined to comment when reached by PYMNTS Wednesday morning. PYMNTS has also reached out to Mashreq for comment but has not yet received a response.

The news follows reports from September that Network International, a payments solutions company also based in the United Arab Emirates, was one of two companies in the running to buy Mashreq’s payments unit. That business handles the processing for transactions made with credit and debit cards.

The deal, assuming it goes forward, comes at a time when digital banking is poised to take off in the Middle East in the same way it did years ago in Europe and the United States.

As PYMNTS noted last month, a string of launches and announcements last year in the UAE and Saudi Arabia “signaled the arrival of digital banks in the Gulf, with the rest of the region not far behind.”

Following the debut of YAP last year, government-backed Wio followed suit in September with an initial focus on small- to medium-sized business (SMBs).

Also targeting SMBs was Mashreq itself, which last year introduced a nonbanking business services platform, Mashreq Business Banking Value Added Services.

The platform gives businesses access to and discounts with several FinTechs, startups and other service providers for things like human resources, office space and cloud storage.

“We understand that entrepreneurship is at the heart of a sustainable, purposeful economy, which is why Mashreq has always been at the top of the race when it comes to fostering entrepreneurship in our region,” Thomas Baxendale, the bank’s head of business banking ecosystems, said at the time.

Across the border in Saudi Arabia, a trio of homegrown neobanks have all been given licenses by the Saudi central bank (SAMA): STC Bank and Saudi Digital Bank in June 2021, and D360 in February of last year.

“Besides being two of the most active FinTech markets in the MENA region, UAE and Saudi Arabia have neobanks that are also well positioned to partner and collaborate given the countries’ geographic and cultural proximity,” PYMNTS wrote.

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