Monday 22 January 2018

Roden's Ding doubles in size after buying US rival iSend

Ding chief executive Mark Roden
Ding chief executive Mark Roden
Nick Webb

Nick Webb

Mark Roden's fast growing Ding has doubled in size, following the buyout of its US rival iSend, turning it into the biggest player in the fast growing airtime remittance space.

The company will now have gross revenues of $500m following the acquisition, which gives it a foothold in the lucrative US and Mexican market. Ding was advised by UK debt specialist Livingstone Partners on the transaction.

The multi-million euro buyout was partially funded by state owned AIB. This is the first major technology acquisition funded by the bank since the financial crisis and is another indication that the banking sector is returning to some form of normality.

"When discussions arose around acquiring iSend, we explored options with private equity, debt providers and high street lenders, we were very pleased to complete the roadshow which resulted in a successful funding by an Irish bank," he said. It is understood that Ding met with around 10 separate debt funders during the roadshow.

The iSend buyout gives Ding access to a major retail distribution network across the Americas. Ding already has access to 500,000 outlets globally, iSend brings an additional 150,000 retail stores, mainly in North America. "There is huge potential in the US retail market and we are now ideally positioned to benefit from this with our newly combined structure," Roden added.

Ding also has a lucrative "white label" business, where it provided remittance services for big mobile operators such as Denis O'Brien's Digicel. The deal to buy iSend gives it access to that firm's customer base which includes giant Central American cellular operator Movistar, which has 17m customers, as well as a branded service for the Philippine market.

"I'm a great believer in scale," Entrepreneur of the Year Roden told the Sunday Independent. "The whole rationale behind Ding was that we have identified a space in the remittance market which was not being addressed - small value transactions."

Ding is now by far the largest global player in the small ($10 or less) remittance market. California-based and privately owned Transferto is the only other significant player in the space, which has not been populated by larger players such as Western Union.

Serial entrepreneur Roden set up Ding (then called Ezetop) as a way for migrant workers in Dubai to send small sums of money back to their families in India. The arrival of smartphones in 2008 transformed the business as money could be transferred in the form of mobile phone top ups.

The potential for growth is enormous as there are around 250m migrant workers around the globe, the majority of whom are unbanked and have no means of transferring small sums of money.

Sunday Indo Business

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