Mobile phone top-up firm ezetop sees revenue rising 25 pct in 2014

DUBAI, March 20 Thu Mar 20, 2014 11:04am EDT

DUBAI, March 20 (Reuters) - Dublin-based ezetop, a mobile phone credit top-up provider, will increase revenue by a quarter this year as it invests more in marketing in its main markets including the Americas, Middle East and India, the firm's founder said on Thursday.

Ezetop allows expatriate workers to send mobile phone credit to people in their home countries and has a virtual private network connected to about 300 emerging market mobile operators.

The company, which began operations in 2007, will generate revenue of about $250 million in 2014, up from around $200 million last year, Mark Roden, chairman, chief executive and majority shareholder, told Reuters.

"The first part was establishing relationships with the mobile operators, that took five years," Roden said. He said ezetop became profitable in 2013, but declined to provide further details.

"The logistics of that is immense, but thankfully it's all done. Now the objective is to increase the volumes into that network."

This means the company will focus on marketing and advertising, he said. "People wouldn't be sending top-up home if there was a better way of getting value back to people who need it instantly."

The United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are the biggest source markets from which ezetop's customers send credit, while the most important top-up destinations are Central America, the Caribbean, India and West Africa.

Roden launched the company after discovering that low-income Indian workers in Dubai were buying top-up cards for Indian mobile operators and sometimes paying a mark-up of 30 to 40 percent on the face value of these cards.

"From the start we made a decision to connect directly to the mobile operator because only then can you guarantee the top-up is going to be delivered," Roden said. "We don't buy from aggregators."

Customers can send credit via text message, partner foreign exchange houses or an online account.

Ezetop takes about 10 percent of top-up amounts in commission, processing around 70,000 transactions daily, and may consider acquisitions in the future.

"We would be a consolidator if we felt the partner was right," added Roden. (Editing by Jane Merriman)

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