The payments division continues to make progress in all areas, but particularly in non-card payments. EURO IBAN account openings have increased a further 12% in the two week period to 3 April 2020 and growth of GBP accounts was in excess of 20%, in the same period; again the Board will be able to present more meaningful data as growth patterns emerge in the coming months. Transaction volumes continue to steadily increase across our non-card payment services in line with account opening growth.
In card payment services, in the last fourteen days, we have added one new card programme (where we manage a card programme for a client on a white label basis) taking the total number of card programmes to 19. Transaction volume continues to grow steadily; however, we have seen a decrease in card activations despite despatch, which seem to indicate a delay in postal services among other things.
The merchant services team have continued the merchant approval process with a broad pipeline of suitable candidates having applied for services from a range of medium to high-risk industries.
Due to the nature of the business of the Payments Division and the way it operates, COVID-19 is to date having a minimal impact on its operations.
The operations of Prize Provision Services Ltd (“PPS”) have been largely unaffected by the COVID-19 pandemic with all External Lottery Management activity taking place as normal. Whilst it is too early to identify any trends on the number of entries into the lotteries which PPS administers, the overall impact is currently expected to be low. Positively, lotteries themselves are being shown to be an excellent method of fundraising during the crisis thanks to the reliable nature of a subscription fundraising model.
The overall number of lines played during March 2020 was approximately 24% higher than during March 2019.
Working capital remains constrained and an area of focus, however the Board believes the improving operating performance will alleviate the position gradually. The completion of the subscription for new shares and capitalisation of existing liabilities (as announced on 31 January 2020), will assist substantially with the working capital position, and the Board is confident that the revised completion date of 30 April 2020 (as announced on 24 March 2020) will be achieved.
A detailed reply has been sent by the Company’s legal adviser to a letter before action from lawyers acting for a third party claiming an historic equity share in Market Access Limited (formerly A N Other Ops Limited, whose acquisition was announced on 23 May 2019). SJH strongly denies the claims and has provided notice of its intention not only to defend any proceedings but also to counterclaim for large sums which it believes are owed by the Claimant to Market Access Limited.
Operations at Astro Kings, the joint venture 5-a-side football centre located in Nottingham, remain suspended. The facility will remain closed until the restrictions are lifted under the Government’s requirement for all outdoor recreation facilities to close. During the closure, Astro Kings will apply for the appropriate COVID-19 support from the Government. Astro Kings does not and will not have a material financial impact on the Company.
Chief Executive Graeme Paton commented, “Despite these unusual times, progress on our plan of delivering full-service, banking-style capabilities continues. We have seen some minor impact due to the current COVID-19 outbreak and the consequences of the restrictions we all have to abide with the closure of Astro Kings five a side football centre, but to date there is no material impact on the core payment and lottery businesses. The Board will continue to monitor the situation and update shareholders as necessary.”
Full report can be found here