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WorldPay retreats from South Africa

Economic uncertainty or lack of interest?

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UK-based online payments outfit WorldPay has sent its customers in South Africa, South Korea and Mexico an email announcing its intention to cease trading in those countries from 5 January 2005. The company cites "economic uncertainty and new regulations" as the reason, the Sunday Times, a South African newspaper, reports.

According to the WorldPay email, problems with Visa and Mastercard are key to the decision. "These govern the way we do business outside of the European Union (EU). These rules demand that in order to continue our business in any country outside the EU, we must enter into an agreement with a local bank," it says. "We are sorry to have to inform you that your business is based within a country where we can no longer offer our services, and therefore we are sending you this e-mail as 60 days' notice of termination of your account. Your account will be closed on 5 January 2005."

One local observer, however, thinks there are other reasons for WorldPay's retreat from South Africa. Arthur Goldstuck, MD of research firm World Wide Worx, told the Sunday Times: "My impression is that SA is very low on WorldPay's radar. I have been unable to get hold of someone there, despite trying for two months now."

And what of WorldPay's soon-to-be-former customers? Second-hand CD shop operator David van der Want fumes: "I'm quite ticked off, actually. I applied two months ago, have only been trading for two weeks, and then I get this e-mail on Friday afternoon. It is frustrating that I went through with the whole application process for nothing." ®

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