Paypoint, which operates a network of payment terminals in the UK and Ireland, on Friday issued an upbeat trading statement as it reported that revenues to the end of February jumped 32 per cent, ahead of analysts’ expectations.

The company, which recently took over the collection of television licence fees from the Post Office, has grown rapidly in recent years through its terminals, which allow consumers to pay for gas and electricity and top up pre-paid mobile phones.

Paypoint said the number of terminals – which are in shops and petrol stations around the country – would exceed 17,000 by the end of the current financial year and would continue to grow at the same rate. Despite trouble finding new sites, it also expects to carry on expanding its network of 1,850 branded cash machines by installing about 35 new machines every month.

The company, which reports its full-year results on May 17th, said higher energy prices had boosted pre-payment volumes, but warned that the recent drop in gas prices would lead to less payments, unless consumers decided to make smaller payments more frequently. However, volumes of mobile top-up fees were up 18 per cent, largely due to the growth in the number of terminals. Cash machine transactions have grown “substantially”, the company said.

Paypoint said transaction volumes were up 29 per cent, with revenues up 32 per cent. Net revenues after payment of commissions were up 29 per cent, reflecting the relatively higher growth of mobile top-up payments in Ireland, which carry a lower margin. In the year to 31st March 2006 it reported turnover of £119.9m and a pretax profit of £20.3m.

Shares in Paypoint, which almost reached 800p last year, opened 23p or 4 per cent higher at 595p. Paypoint said the computer systems for its internet payment services would be combined in the first half of the next financial year.

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