Aduno Group once again posts solid results
The Aduno Group can look back on another good year in 2019. In the Payment business division, both transaction volumes and the number of issued cards reached new heights. Consolidated revenues at Group level exceeded the previous year’s figure despite the disposal of the consumer lending and leasing business on 2 September 2019. The Group is maintaining its strategic focus on the card business.
This Annual Report was prepared in accordance with the new Swiss GAAP FER accounting standards.
Consolidated revenues of the Aduno Group rose by 5.4% in 2019 to CHF 544.2 million (previous year: CHF 516.1 million). The Payment business division (including Accarda) posted revenues of CHF 473.4 million. In the eight months until its disposal, the Consumer Finance segment generated revenues of CHF 67.5 million. Of the total turnover, 35.4% was attributable to commission income, 22.3% to annual fees, 18.0% to interest income and 24.3% to other income. Commission income increased from CHF 172.0 million in 2018 to CHF 192.9 million in 2019, a gain of 12.1%. Income from annual fees was at the previous year’s level. Interest income declined by 8.0% compared with 2018. Other income rose by 13.9% in the year under review.
Disposals and impairments impact net profit
Net profit amounted to CHF 58.3 million, with a profit margin of 10.7%. Net profit was therefore 44.1% below the previous year’s figure of CHF 104.4 million. The disposal of the consumer lending and leasing business is reflected in this figure: cashgate AG was sold to Cembra Money Bank AG for CHF 275 million on 2 September 2019. The sale generated a capital gain of CHF 155.5 million.
On 24 July 2019, the Aduno Group increased its 70% stake in Contovista AG to 100%. The complete acquisition was associated with an impairment of proprietary software, which resulted in an impairment loss of CHF 14.6 million. In 2019, the Aduno Group also sold its stake in SwissWallet AG and carried out various smaller divestitures at Accarda AG. As part of the annual impairment test on intagible assets, an individual value adjustment in the amount of CHF 91.7 million was also made on customer and license agreements. Furthermore, an additional provision of CHF 53.3 million was created as a precaution due to the development of the tax dispute with the Canton of Zurich.
Very solid capital base and declining headcount
As at 31 December 2019, the Aduno Group had total assets of CHF 1,421.8 million (previous year: CHF 2,578.3 million). Share capital increased from CHF 650.3 million as at the end of 2018 to CHF 654.8 million in the period under review. This corresponds to an equity ratio of 46.1%. As at 31 December 2019, the Aduno Group had 783 (previous year: 912) employees (full-time equivalents). The decrease is due to the disposal of cashgate AG and the divestitures at Accarda AG.
Card business still on track
Transaction turnover in Issuing rose again sharply in 2019, with a 9.3% increase to CHF 10.9 billion (previous year: CHF 9.9 billion). Cash substitutes were the largest growth driver, which is also underscored by the number of credit card transactions that were carried out (+18.9%). Nowadays, even smaller amounts are increasingly being paid for by credit card. The ratio of contactless payments in domestic face-to-face business (POS transactions) also continued to rise markedly, from an average of 48.3% in 2018 to 54.9% in 2019. In foreign volume, business in 2019 grew in the areas of food (discounters/supermarkets), department stores, software and digital products, leisure and restaurants.
The number of issued cards exceeded 1.6 million (excluding Accarda), amounting to an increase of 5.9% compared with the previous year. The next-generation debit cards (Debit Mastercard® and Mastercard Flex®) made a particular contribution to this result, as they continued to grow in popularity last year after their launch in 2018. In particular, the increase was the result of strong growth among sales partners, as various client banks introduced a Debit Mastercard® or Mastercard Flex® in the year under review.
The sustained growth in cards is a clear indication that the Aduno Group is on the right path with its strategic focus. The expansion of the card business will also be systematically implemented in 2020.
The strategic focus is being accompanied by the progressive digitisation of services. As a result, numerous updates were made to the "one" app in 2019, which will further enhance the benefits customers can enjoy from the multi-award-winning app. For example, thanks to the personal finance management solution from Contovista, customers now receive detailed information on their spending. This gives them much more control over their own finances – and makes the app more attractive. The self-service functions were also further expanded, for example with the new “Order replacement card” option.
In addition, mobile payment was the dominant digitisation topic in 2019: with the introduction of Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and SwatchPAY!, the Aduno Group added no less than three mobile payment solutions from major providers to its portfolio in 2019. Today, customers benefit from a broad range of solutions and further mobile payment solutions will be added this year.
In 2019, more customers were gained in the third pillar of the Aduno Group’s digitisation strategy, APIs. The platform was expanded by 15 new application programming interfaces, including one to query transaction data, one to manage card limits and one to access card statements. The digital interfaces will help client banks integrate the data, services and functions of Viseca into their own applications in order to make them available to their customers.
Contovista with new solution for SMEs
The wholly owned subsidiary and Swiss market leader for data-driven banking further expanded its product portfolio in 2019: in collaboration with Valiant and Swisscom, Contovista launched a multi-banking solution with a financial cockpit for SMEs last September. Valiant thus enables SMEs to manage their liquidity centrally across multiple banking relationships. This expansion of the business finance manager from Contovista provides SMEs with even more control over their finances and allows them to save time.
In 2019, Contovista also entered into a partnership with NDGIT, the first API platform for banking and insurance in Europe. The two partners launched a joint project for digital lending processes. At the same time, Contovista can now be immediately connected via NDGIT's API marketplace.
With the sale of the remaining shares to the Aduno Group, the co-founders of Contovista, Gian Reto à Porta and Nicolas Cepeda have stepped down from the operating business. Dominik Wurzer, who had served as Chief Sales Officer at Contovista since 2017, was appointed the new CEO on 1 January 2020.
No noteworthy developments in the COMCO investigation or criminal proceedings
In November 2018, the Competition Commission launched an investigation into multiple Swiss credit card issuers. The Aduno Group is cooperating fully with the Commission. No notable developments resulted from this matter during the year under review.
In 2017, the Aduno Group initiated proceedings against former directors of the company through an independent inquiry and subsequent criminal complaint. The proceedings are pending with the Public Prosecutor’s Office of the Canton of Zurich.
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