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Payments firm seeks bank licence amid shake-up

Source: Reuters - Mon 22th Feb 2010

A UK payments firm is applying for a banking licence to provide a full range of bank services to businesses, joining a growing list of firms targeting the area as the industry reshapes after the financial crisis.

Voice Commerce Group, an unlisted payments firm that is interested in buying bigger rival RBS WorldPay, said on Monday it had appointed law firm Mills & Reeve to get a licence from Britain's financial regulator to operate as a business bank.

"There are some real opportunities. There's a sea change in the way that financial services are going to be provided to businesses and consumers over the next 12 to 18 months" Nick Ogden, chief executive officer of Voice Commerce, told Reuters.

It is likely to take about six months to get the licence and offer a range of services first in Britain, he said in an interview. He is aiming for about 50,000 customers by the end of 2011 and also has sights on expanding in Europe and the United States, he said.

Voice Commerce was formed in 2005 and provides mobile financial, payment, identity and verification services.

Ogden, who was a founder of part of RBS WorldPay, said he remains actively interested in buying that business, which Royal Bank of Scotland is being forced to sell and could fetch over $2.5 billion (1.62 billion pounds).

He declined to comment further on the sale.

The auction has attracted interest from numerous buyout firms, including Apax, Advent International, TPG, Permira and BC Partners, people familiar with the matter have said.

More detailed information memoranda are due to be sent shortly, but any deal is likely to take months, sources said.

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