Ecomm founders provide €7.6m loan to cover losses

Fintech founded by former Prepaid owners Noel and Valerie Moran records €12.7m loss

Valerie and Noel Moran, who founded both Ecomm and Prepaid Financial Services

Valerie and Noel Moran, who founded both Ecomm and Prepaid Financial Services

 

Ecomm Merchant Solutions, a company established by Noel and Valerie Moran, who also previously founded Prepaid Financial Services, slipped into the red last year after it had to cover a €10 million bad debt.

The company founders recently provided a €7.6 million five-year loan to Ecomm after it reported up a €12.7 million pre-tax loss in 2020 versus a €2.5 million loss a year earlier.

Ecomm said it was forced to cover close to €10 million in chargebacks and fees with both Visa and Mastercard after a merchant went into administration last July. The Navan-based payment technology provider was impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic, which led to a decline in revenues.

Overall, turnover fell to €7.2 million as against €11.1 million in the prior year.

Ecomm, which was founded in 2014, had expected to report a loss linked to the expansion of its point of sale (POS) terminals business. However, it was not forecasting it would be of such a magnitude.

“The group will need to look at its merchants more closely in terms of solvency and the impact that Covid-19 has on them so that there is not another situation where it is required to cover chargebacks to Visa and MasterCard arising from a merchant closing,” the directors said.

At year-end the company had net liabilities of €21.8 million, up €9.5 million compared to 2019.

They said that despite the impact of the pandemic it “significantly” grew the POS side of its business in 2020.

“While the group continued to trade during this period, there was a significant reduction in POS turnover due to the impact of Government lockdown restrictions on merchants,” directors said.

“With the lifting of restrictions and the successful roll out of government vaccination programmes, many of the group’s customers are now reopening and there has been a significant increase in POS turnover in the second quarter of 2021. The directors expect this to continue to grow in the coming years,” they added.

Ecomm won the IT and Fintech award in The Irish Times Innovation Awards earlier this year. The company was also ranked in Deloitte’s ‘Fast 50’ list of the fastest growing companies in the Republic.

Employee numbers fell significantly at Ecomm in 2020, declining to 61 versus 119 a year earlier. This led to a fall in staff costs, which totalled €2.87 million as against €5.4 million in 2019.

Mr and Ms Moran earlier this year exited Prepaid Financial Services, which has since rebranded following the completion of its acquisition last year by Australian fintech EML Payments in a multi-million euro deal.

EML has incurred costs and provisions of over €7 million to date in relation to a Central Bank of Ireland’s investigation into PFS Card Services (Ireland) Ltd, part of the wider group. The financial regulator warned in May that it might restrict the activities of the unit, which accounted for 27 per cent of group revenues in the first three months of the year.

The Central Bank’s concerns relate to anti-money-laundering and counter-terrorism financing matters, risk, control frameworks and governance.