17 March 2020
'Robust contingency plans working for COVID-19; 2020 revenues to date resilient;
cost reduction and cash conservation measures introduced'
Equals (AIM:EQLS), the B2B focused e-banking and international payments group, provides the following statement regarding the Group's actions to deal with disruption and economic uncertainty from the COVID-19 outbreak, together with an update on trading in January and February 2020.
A potential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is an interruption to business continuity if any or all of the Group's offices need to be closed or if Equals staff are unable to travel due to government advice. The Group is well placed to mitigate the potential impact of COVID-19 on business continuity because of significant investment over the past 18 months in new networking and security technologies which have improved our connectivity, resilience and also protect our customers from threats.
All Equals employees are enabled to work in a secure way remotely either using encrypted company devices or securely via a web browser on their personal devices. All systems that support this were tested last week and Equals currently has 50% of staff working remotely in rotating shifts and can move to 100% as and when required.
For remote working, customer and company data is accessed via secure Equals servers. Recent investment into cloud telephony also allows the Group to switch its entire phone system between any of its sites and allow staff to continue receiving calls on their personal smartphone or other devices with no compromise on call recording or customer data security. The Board believes these capabilities places the Group at a significant advantage to many of its competitors.
The Group has four main business lines: International Payments (representing 43%); Other corporate products (representing 20%); Retail banking and similar (representing 19%) and lastly, Travel cash and retail cards (representing 18%). All percentages are based on trading in January and February 2020.
Group revenues to the end of February 2020 have been resilient and were 33% higher than the same period last year. Whilst Corporate revenues are still robust in March to date and account for the majority of revenues, there has been a market slowdown on travel cash and retail card revenues in the last week as COVID-19 has had adversely impacted the travel industry.
Given the unknown impact of COVID-19, the Group is taking a conservative approach and is implementing cash conservation and cost reduction plans across its business, in addition to those previously announced earlier this year.
Ian Strafford-Taylor, CEO of Equals Group, said: "As COVID-19 spreads around the world the health and safety of our colleagues and customers is our top priority right now. We have and will continue to follow government advice and have implemented contingency plans to minimise disruption to the Group.
In the first two months of 2020, our corporate revenues have been resilient reflecting the investments made over the last couple of years. The smallest part of our business, travel cash, has been adversely affected by COVID-19 and, as such, we have moved quickly to address our cost base accordingly.
Our plans for business continuity are now in full effect. Our sites in London and Chester are functioning as normal, maintaining our exceptionally high levels of encryption and security that meet our customers' needs. We will continue to monitor and assess the impact of COVID-19 as the situation develops and will update the market further as and when necessary."
This announcement contains inside information.
For more information, please contact:
|Equals Group plc
Ian Strafford-Taylor, CEO
Richard Cooper, Group CFO
|+44 (0) 20 7778 9308|
|Cenkos Securities plc - (Nominated Advisor / Joint Broker)
Max Hartley / Callum Davidson
Nick Searle (Sales)
|+44 (0) 20 7397 8900|
|Canaccord Genuity Limited - (Joint Broker)
Bobbie Hilliam / David Tyrrell
Alex Aylen (Sales)
|+44 (0) 20 7523 8150|
|+44 (0) 20 7466 5000
Equals is a leading challenger brand in banking and payments that disintermediates the incumbent banks with a superior user experience and low-cost operating model. Our business enables personal and business customers to make easy, low-cost payments both domestically and in a broad range of currencies and across a range of products all via one integrated system. The Equals platform facilitates payments either direct to Bank Accounts or at 35 million merchants and over 1 million ATM's in a broad range of countries globally via Mobile apps, the Internet, SMS, wire transfer and MasterCard/VISA debit cards.
Equals provides money movement services to both business customers and, to a lesser extent, retail customers through four channels: Currency Cards, Physical Currency, International Payments and Bank Accounts. The Currency Card and Physical Currency offerings facilitate multiple overseas payments at points of sale and ATM's whereas the International Payments channel supports wire transfer foreign exchange transactions direct to Bank Accounts. For Corporates, Equals has a market-leading business-expenses solution based around its corporate platform and prepaid card. This service can yield significant savings on a Corporate's expenses and procurement both domestically and overseas, through better controls and improved transparency. The platform also streamlines the downstream administrative processes and integrates into accounting software, thus saving costs. Equals offers retail and business bank accounts with all the functionality you would expect from a bank, namely faster payments, BACs, direct debits, international payments and a debit card.