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Planet Payment enters South Africa ahead of World Cup

Planet Payment (AIM:PPT; OTCQX:PLPM) said it has launched a partnership with South African based Absa Card to capitalise on the anticipated massive tourist inflow into that country with the start of the football World Cup in summer, looking to provide visitors with a choice of paying in Rand or in one of the 30 supported foreign currencies through its Pay in Your Currency technology.

Foreign visitors paying in the Rand often do not know how much they will be charged in their domestic currency that their bank accounts are set to before they receive the bill, which sometimes takes months. Planet Payment’s Pay in Your Currency, also referred to as Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC), addresses this.

Absa merchants will be provided with the ability to present the international consumer with a choice of paying in Rand, or completing the purchase in any one of the 30 supported foreign currencies, enabling them to improve client service and add volume growth.

Absa decided to introduce the technology after consulting with its majority owner banking group Barclays (LSE: BARC), which has been offering the DCC solution through Barclaycard for a number of years, while Absa will be the first to do it in South Africa.

“We are excited to enter the South African market with such a strong partner as Absa, especially in advance of a significant global event. The adoption of Pay in Your Currency continues its steady climb as more merchants around the world have enjoyed increased sales and higher levels of customer satisfaction, while realising higher profitability,” said chairman and chief executive of Planet Payment Philip Beck.

Absa expects to roll out the product to Absa Card merchants in the second half of April after rolling out Pay in Your Currency for trials at selected merchants.

Planet Payment’s revenues for the full year 2009 soared 31%, while net losses declined 63%. The substantial revenue increases - reported last month - were largely due to the company’s operational achievements during the year, which included the launch of multicurrency processing services in India, the commencement of domestic and multicurrency processing services in Canada, a 23% increase in active merchant locations.

Total settled transaction volume increased 38% to US$2.2 billion.

Total revenues for Q1 2010 are projected to increase approximately 25% year-on-year to over US$13 million. Revenues in Q1 will still be lower than in Q4 2010 and are expected to rebound to the level achieved in the final quarter in March, which the company said typically occurred in the past.

“We believe the company is well positioned for further growth in 2010 as we continue to expand into new countries and are poised for the recovery in our existing markets,” Beck had commented on the results.

The company has recently signed an agreement with the Middle East and North Africa operating Network International to market the Pay in Your Currency service to merchants in UAE, with the launch of multicurrency services in the Philippines planned for Q2 2010.

Disclosure: The author holds no positions in the company