08 July 2021
“21% Y-on-Y revenue growth; record quarter in Q2-2021; benefits of cost restructuring now coming through in cash returns.”
Equals (AIM:EQLS), the technology-led international payments group focused on the SME marketplace, is pleased to provide the following trading update for the six months ended 30 June 2021 (‘H1-2021’).
Revenues in H1-2021 were £16.7 million, a 21% increase over H1-2020 (£13.8 million) and this was despite the continued absence of meaningful travel-related activity. Revenues in H1-2021 also rose 11% relative to H2-2020.
Travel-related activity represented less than 5% of revenue in Q2-2021 compared to 31% in Q3-2019, showing the differential between pre Covid levels and therefore the potential for increased travel money revenues as Covid restrictions are relaxed.
The engine of growth continues to be the Group’s B2B initiatives, encompassed in the Equals Money product suite for corporate customers. Within B2B, growth has been broad-based with International Payments seeing strong demand for its ‘own-name multi-currency IBAN’ offering and white-label platform and the Corporate Expenses platform achieving record results.
Revenues by identifiable market segment over the last eight quarters were:
Q2-2021 was a record quarter for the Group, driven by record levels of International Payment transactions, record activity on the Spend platform and buoyant revenues from banking-style products.
The strategic push to direct sales towards more sophisticated B2B customers is starting to bear fruit for the Group with an increase in dealing in forward contracts, which typically yield a higher margin. The number of forward transactions rose by over 200% and the average order size rose from £90k to £114k. Revenues from forward contracts now represents 45% of the total International Payments’ revenue stream.
In addition, the Group saw strong demand for its ‘own-name multi-currency IBAN’ capability combined with its settlement and clearance capabilities and user-friendly platforms – Equals Solutions. This resulted in £0.3 million of revenues in Q2-2021 as clients came on stream in June 2021, and the pipeline for H2-2021 looks strong.
The success of the CasCo acquisition in November 2019, and its performance since, led to a slightly higher earn-out payment than previously anticipated in Q1-2021 (£0.8 million), but with no material effect to the Group’s cashflows or cash position. The ex-CasCo white-label business – Equals Connect - continued to grow, gaining a further 32 white label customers in H1-2021 taking its total to 58. This was coupled with the gain of over 1,100 new business customers and over 1,600 High Net Worth Individual (‘HNWI’) customers in the main International Payments offering.
Through its traditional channels the Group has opened just under 1,600 new B2B accounts in H1-2021. A further 1,600 new B2B customers were added through the new Equals Money portal, demonstrating the demand the Group will be accessing for this platform in H2-2021. Deposits from B2B customers, an indication of revenues to be earned when the funds are spent, also grew strongly, up 60% year-on-year in H1-2021 at £337 million.
This is another area where the Group has seen business confidence return as the Spend platform is now achieving record levels of loads accelerating towards the end of Q2-2021 with June 2021 being an all-time high. This growth is set to accelerate further if travel restrictions are relaxed, widening the use case for the Group’s customers. New customer acquisition was strong with 574 new business customers being added bringing the active customer total on the platform to 5,644.
Equals B2B Solutions
Larger companies with complicated and high-volume international flows are increasingly being attracted to Equals as the Group can combine leading edge FX capabilities with outstanding clearance and settlements capabilities. This capability – called Equals Solutions – yields revenues across the Group, typically in International Payments and Banking but in addition within Card-based products. The first company to use these capabilities was Homesend, which the Group announced back in November 2020. Since that time, Equals has enhanced the proposition by adding the ‘own-name multi-currency IBAN’ capability in Q2-2021 and further enhancements to the UX of the platform. Strong revenues in Equals Solutions were recorded in June 2021 and the pipeline looks robust going forward.
The Group has continued to drive-down headcount and reshape its cost base throughout 2021. Headcount remains around 250 but with a significantly lower cost footprint, with this now being around £0.9 million of base pay per month compared to £0.96 million in June 2020, and £1.2 million in January 2020.
Equals continues to invest its increased revenues in additional product development and marketing to drive further growth. In addition, the Group has further strengthened its internal control environment and provisioned for a greater frequency of external audit requirements in the highly regulated space which Equals occupies. For these reasons, whilst the Board is delighted with the Group’s revenue growth, it is not currently anticipating any meaningful change in the Group’s clean EBITDA which the market has forecast in either 2021 or 2022 at this stage. However, the Group will provide more guidance at the publication of the Group’s interims in early September 2021.
The Group became operationally cash break-even in Q4-2020 and has remained so since. Equals incurred £0.8 million of legacy earn-outs, and has incurred further exceptional redundancy costs as it continues to change the staffing composition. Equals is also filing a claim for £1.3 million of R&D credits for 2020, and at 30 June 2021 the Group had £9.2 million of cash at bank.
Increased trading activity can mean additional collateral may have to be posted and therefore approximately £1.2 million is currently used for card pre-funding, regulatory deposits and funding margins with liquidity providers. The Group expects the composition of this funding requirement to change which should allow approximately £0.5 million to become more freely available over the remainder of FY-2021.
Ian Strafford Taylor, CEO of Equals, said: “The hard work undertaken on both product development and cost restructuring over the last twelve months has really paid off as can be seen from these excellent revenues for H1-2021. Given the growth trajectory, we remain highly confident about the revenue prospects for second half of the year.”
This announcement contains inside information.
For more information, please contact:
|Equals Group plc
|Ian Strafford-Taylor, CEO
Richard Cooper, CFO
|Tel: +44 (0) 20 7778 9308
|Canaccord Genuity (Nominated Advisor / Broker)
|Emma Gabriel / Bobbie Hilliam / Georgina McCooke
Alex Aylen (Sales)
|Tel: +44 (0) 20 7523 8150
|Buchanan (Financial Communications)
|Henry Harrison-Topham / Steph Watson / Toto Berger
|Tel: +44 (0) 20 7466 5000
Notes to Editors:
Equals Group is a technology-led international payments group augmented by highly personalised service for the payment needs of SME’s whether these be FX, card payments or via Faster Payments. Founded in 2007, the Group listed on AIM in 2014 and currently employs around 250 staff across sites in London and Chester. For more information, please visit www.equalsplc.com.