Optimizer HQ has big plans

Optimizer HQ is confident about stepping up as a listed company despite a partner's less than ideal foray into Europe.

The Auckland technology firm wants to list on the New Zealand Stock Exchange [NZX] and says a share float could be a reality within three months.

Optimizer HQ's main product is a mobile payment system called Swipe HQ which allows merchants to process credit card payments through a smartphone application combined with hardware which plugs into an audio input.

The company's chief executive Manas Kumar said it was aimed at small businesses or "micro-merchants" with small turnovers.

Kumar said he had appointed advisors who were taking care of the paper work, but he believed the company would be listed "in the three to six month timeframe, maybe even sooner".

The move follows a swathe of other announced initial public offers including Z Energy, SLI Systems, Serko, Wynyard Group, Meridian Energy and Synlait.

Which NZX board Optimizer HQ intends to list on is yet to be decided and Kumar would not say who was advising Optimizer HQ on the process.

Kumar has already experimented with stock exchange listings - a licensed partner-company called Optimizer International, based in Canada, listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange early last year.

It listed on the Regulated Unofficial Market of the exchange, which required no disclosure of financial information and few details about the owners.

That market has since shut down and Kumar said the economic conditions in Europe were not ideal for the venture.

Optimizer International's licence was terminated in October and it subsequently withdrew from the exchange, he said.

"At the time Europe was going through an interesting changeover in terms of the stock exchange mix and the alliance they were forming with the New York Stock Exchange - at the time the move felt the right thing to do with the company," Kumar said.

"As the Euro-zone economies have gone from bad to worse it became quite apparent that that move wasn't quite going to deliver the outcomes for us.

"Having said that the New Zealand business, the main Optimizer HQ business, has experienced significant growth."

Kumar said Optimizer HQ had gone from 10 employees last March to 45 in New Zealand, 11 in the Philippines, two in Hong Kong, two in Canada and plans for on-the-ground representation in the United States and Britain within three months.

He said an NZX listing had a number of advantages and benefits for the company including boosting Optimizer's profile, allowing international expansion and providing capital for acquisitions.

"We've already got a few [acquisition targets] on our radar that we have been looking at over the past several months," he said.

"It's a case of finding the right business mix that has similar ideologies to us, that believes in simplifaction and has got future potential."

Kumar was not willing to reveal Optimizer HQ's turnover, revenue or customer numbers but said that would become public information if and when the company listed.Kumar said he had asked his staff for "a banking-related product without the banking experience" and Swipe HQ emerged as a solution for credit card payment mainly for small businesses or "micro-merchants".

"They're not always the choice customers for banks because they don't always make a lot of money from those guys," Kumar said.

"So they get second-class treatment and the number of fees associated with payment products are just horrendous.

"With Swipe it's just 2.75 per cent per transaction for most businesses or 0.95 per cent for charities, and there's nothing else - no setup, no monthly, no gateway fees, no fixed-term contracts."

Kumar said some competitors typically charged 3.4 per cent per transaction, plus 45 cents, and didn't offer the level of service his company did.

He said an eftpos-capable version is in the works.

BusinessDay.co.nz