Paymark chief executive Mark Rushworth has resigned from the electronic payments firm owned by the country's four major banks as the sale process kicked off in February looks set to drag into 2017.

ANZ Bank New Zealand, ASB Bank, Bank of New Zealand and Westpac Banking Corp started a sales process earlier this year but had yet to find a buyer and the process was likely to continue into next year, prompting Rushworth's resignation, chairman Stephen Franks said in a statement.

"That process has unavoidably created some uncertainty in the company," Franks said. "Mark Rushworth and his team have worked with that extra pressure through much of the year."

General counsel Liam O'Reilly will act in the role until a new head is appointed. Rushworth was in charge of the company for three years.

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Paymark has more than 75 percent of the market for electronic point of sale terminals. In 2015 it processed more than 1.2 billion transactions with a value of more than $60 billion. There are 140,000 terminals in New Zealand, with 80,000 merchants using them.

The company lifted its dividend to the Australian-owned banks to $9.4 million in the 2016 year from $6 million, as profit climbed 62 percent to $19.5 million on a 31 percent rise in sales to $68.5 million. The shareholders were paid further $7.3 million in dividends.