The South African payments technology company Net 1 UEPS Technologies Inc. has agreed to buy a 98.73% stake in KSNet Inc., a South Korean payment processor.

Net 1 said the purchase price was $233 million. The companies expect to close the transaction in the second quarter of 2011.

KSNet services a range of industries in South Korea, including credit card, retail and wholesale merchants, financial companies, government agencies, utility companies, and e-commerce businesses. KSNet's customer base includes approximately 200,000 merchants, and the company processed more than 1.4 billion transactions in 2009.

Net 1 operates a value-added network business in South Africa similar to KSNet's called EasyPay, and it hopes to incorporate KSNet's platform and enter the Asian market, said Serge Belamant, Net 1's chairman and CEO, in a press release. "We will also introduce key products and services from Net 1's EasyPay and Mobile Virtual Card offerings, providing a comprehensive and differentiated [service] to cardholders, financial institutions and merchants in Korea."

Net 1's system is an alternative payment system for the unbanked and underbanked populations of developing economies. It uses smart cards that conduct transactions immediately but offline, unlike traditional payment systems offered by major banks. Users can conduct transactions with other cardholders at any time, even in remote areas, as long as a portable, offline smart card reader is available.

Besides payments and purchases, companies use Net 1 for banking, healthcare management, international funds transfers, voting and identification.