This article was last updated in March 2021
Propelled by the global COVID-19 pandemic, an increasing number of organizations have moved their commercial and financial interactions online. Companies in various industries have seen a huge surge of demand in 2020, but financial services, especially online and mobile payments, have proven very appealing due to the online and mobile shopping boom.
Even before the troubling year 2020, a bunch of innovative companies has managed to grow exponentially by being able to meet customers’ expectations and provide a seamless payments experience. We prepared an overview of companies we believe are at the forefront of payment innovation, to better understand why they impact and disrupt the payments ecosystem as we know it.
Klarna started business in 2005, with an early version of ‘buy now, pay later’ (BNPL) solution, which allowed consumers to receive goods before being charged, which proved very appealing in case a product needed to be returned. Using Klarna, customers wouldn’t have had to wait weeks to be reimbursed. Klarna’s popularity from its inception was given by the fact that in Sweden there is low credit card usage, a payment method working similarly with BNPL from the consumer protection perspective.
Klarna is an early mover in the buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) space, competing with other companies such as Afirm or Afterpay. In essence, Klarna gives consumers “short-term loans”, a way to buy things online without having to pay for them upfront. For a consumer, Klarna appears as an option at checkout or is available through the “shopping mall” app, where users can browse all the stores that allow payments via Klarna. The company steps in and offers to pay the merchant upfront while providing customers 30 days to settle their invoice. In return, merchants pay Klarna a percentage of the transactions. On the BNPL front, the company is active in 17 countries and has over 250,000 retail partners, including Macy’s, H&M, IKEA, Expedia Group, Samsung, ASOS, Nike, and AliExpress. Besides this, Klarna has a banking license obtained in 2017, and a range of banking services, such as savings and current accounts, available for the Swedish and German markets.
The huge success of the buy now pay later model has stirred interest from regulators and also criticism from various entities. Klarna allegedly makes it too easy to get into debt. Recently, BBC pointed to the fact that the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is expected to be given powers to regulate the sector. For BNPL companies, this means that they would have to conduct proper affordability checks before lending and ensure customers are treated fairly in case they find it hard to repay the loans.
In March 2021, Klarna has raised USD 1 billion in new funding at a valuation of USD 31 billion, becoming the highest-valued private tech company in Europe.
Stripe’s software helps any website or app to accept payments, without the need for a license or additional deals with the banks or card networks already integrated. Its success on the market and popularity among investors is given by the fundamental infrastructure of payments processing, for which it takes relatively low fees, and by the speed and simplicity of integration, especially for small businesses and start-ups. The enterprise segment is also representative, with over 50 clients that process more than USD 1 billion a year in payments.
To date, Stripe has expanded to more than 40 countries and raised USD 2.4 billion, being valued at USD 95 billion, more than Barclays and Deutsche Bank combined. The company will use the capital raised in March 2021 to invest in its European operations and expand its Global Payments and Treasury Network. According to Financial Times, Stripe is currently Silicon Valley’s most prized private company.
Adyen provides a modern end-to-end infrastructure connecting directly to Visa, Mastercard, and consumers’ globally preferred payment methods. The Dutch fintech company focuses on the B2B space, providing payment services to companies such as Uber, Spotify, and Netflix. Adyen went public on the Amsterdam stock exchange in 2018, its IPO being one of the most high-profile tech listings in Europe in recent years, alongside Spotify.
Since its inception in 2006, the Dutch company’s shares have climbed more than 700%. With a USD 68 billion enterprise value, it is currently worth more than incumbent players such as BNP Paribas or Santander.
In 2017, the founder of the company started focusing on a big challenge: the fragmentation of the global commerce and financial markets. Each country and consumer or business still has payment methods they prefer or can use, and distinct regulations make the entire space even more complex. This translates into hundreds of local payment methods, which make it hard for global companies to run operations. Rapyd started as a mobile payments service for the B2C space, and then focused on the “white label” model, offering its technology to other companies. Emerging successful so rapidly in a market dominated by big players such as PayPal, Stripe, Adyen, or Checkout.com, with Stripe itself an investor in the company, is enough to understand how thriving this space is.
Their fintech-as-a-service platform connects companies of any size to all the ways the world likes to pay and offers them the infrastructure to create their own fintech solutions. With 900+ payment methods in 100 countries, one can open new markets, reach new customers, and create new opportunities anywhere.
In January 2021, Rapyd raised USD 300 million to expand its team, build out more technology, and make new acquisitions. In December 2019, it was valued at USD 1.2 billion. The company’s customer base now numbers over 5,000 businesses, onboarding around 500 new customers each week in the recent months.
Founded in 2015, Revolut aims to build a financial service to replace traditional bank accounts, letting customers and businesses open an account from an app in a few minutes. Through the app or a debit card, users can receive and send money, and also exchange currencies. Moreover, with Revolut, one can ensure their phone, get a travel medical insurance package, buy cryptocurrencies or shares, donate or even save money. In December 2020, the UK-based company launched its own acquiring solution, entering into direct competition with Stripe, Adyen, Braintree, or Checkout.com. It supports 14 currencies and settles payments on the Revolut Business account the next day.
In July 2020, the startup raised an additional USD 80 million as part of its Series D round that it announced in February 2020, when it raised USD 500 million at a USD 5.5 billion valuation. The company plans to use the investment to add new features for US consumers and roll out banking operations across Europe. In addition, Revolut is working on a subscription management tool to allow users to see all their active subscriptions, cancel them from Revolut, and receive alerts when a free trial expires. To date, there are over 12 million registered users on Revolut. In 2020, the company became UK’s most valuable fintech startup.
Founded in 2012, EBANX initially focused on connecting global businesses with Brazilian consumers, processing payments from Brazilian clients of global websites like AliExpress, Airbnb, or Spotify. Then, it started to offer payment processing services to Brazilian ecommerce platforms as well. The company may eventually offer savings accounts and other services and expand them to more countries in Latin America.
EBANX reached unicorn status (over USD 1 billion valuation) in 2019. With Latin America’s fast-growing market and highly positive forecasts for the region, EBANX consolidates itself as a complete payment solution for global companies looking to expand their businesses in Latin America. The Brazilian business accounts for nearly 90% of the company’s revenue.
The impressive boom of the fintech space in recent years is given by the digital transformation wave one can notice in almost every industry. New solutions that streamline the payments experience are needed everywhere and ensuring transactions security and speed are aspects that can bring numerous business opportunities.
At Maxcode, we’re here to discuss your plans when it comes to offering improved payment experiences to your customers all across Europe. Contact us to learn more.