Singapore-based payments platform Nium, which specialises in B2B payments, has agreed to buy travel payments optimisation company Ixaris for an undisclosed amount.

The deal is expected to close early in the third quarter of the year, subject to customary closing conditions.

London-based Ixaris offers funding and payment methods that helps airlines and online travel agents (OTAs) earn rebates, minimise surcharges and FX fees, and streamline reconciliation.

Claimed to be the first to launch a virtual prepaid card in Europe in 2003, the firm issued over 10 million virtual cards in 2019.

So far, Ixaris is said to have processed 24 million transactions for more than 200 customers in over 40 countries for a total payment volume of £5bn.

The deal comes at a time when airlines and OTAs anticipate a surge in global travel as Covid-19 vaccination efforts pick momentum across the globe.

Nium co-founder and CEO Prajit Nanu noted: “The travel industry has long been dependent on slow-moving, monolithic payment platforms.

“Our acquisition will serve to replace these incumbents with a modern solution that combines Ixaris’ leading virtual card capability with Nium’s advanced pay-in, pay-out and embedded foreign exchange capabilities.”

Nium is expecting to further accelerate its strategy to introduce one API integration to access the global payments infrastructure with the acquisition.

Following the transaction, Ixaris’ team of 86 employees based in London and Malta will join the Nium.

Commenting on the deal, Ixaris Group CEO Mark Spiteri said: “As part of the Nium family, we can offer the broadest portfolio of virtual card offerings to travel businesses across the globe.

“All aspects of our company, from our technologies to our people, perfectly complement Nium and we look forward to increasing our geographic footprint to new regions, including the US.”

Nium’s B2B payments platform enables banks, payment providers, travel companies, and other businesses to receive and pay out funds in local currencies to over 100 countries.

The platform also enables its customers to deploy financial services ranging from card issuance to cross-border payments.

Last month, Nium launched a maritime payments solution to help digitise the payments experience for shipping companies.