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One Year in Fintech: 2021 Mergers and Acquisitions

In recent years, the global payments and fintech industry has seen increasing consolidation. From Paytrail snapping up Checkout Finland in January to Tink completing its purchase of FinTecSystems in December, it’s been a busy 12 months of mergers and acquisitions (M&As). Let’s take a look back on the fintech industry’s most notable M&As of 2021 – from January through to December.

January
Paytrail snaps up Checkout Finland Oy

Paytrial by netsBack in January 2021, Nets Group’s Finnish e-commerce specialist Paytrail signed an agreement to acquire Checkout Finland Oy, part of OP Financial Group. The deal was completed in April, bringing 8,000 e-commerce merchants to Nets portfolio. The parties agreed not to disclose the price of the transaction.

Robert Hoffmann, CEO of Nets Merchant Services, said: “Expanding market presence, especially in the fast-growing e-commerce business, is an important building block in achieving Nets Group’s ambition of becoming the European paytech leader.”

Also in January, Konsentus announced that it had acquired Open Banking Europe S.A.S. from PRETA. While shopping rewards company Global Savings Group (GSG) acquired German cashback platform operator Shoop. NCR also marked its intention to acquire Cardtronics.

February
United Fintech acquires a 25 per cent stake in TTMzero

United Fintech entered the market data and regtech space with the acquisition of German fintech TTMzero. United Fintech took a 25 per cent stake in the firm, with the intention of increasing to 80 per cent over the next three years.

“The acquisition is a key milestone in our quest to help banks to digitise their operations and facilitate the implementation of innovative, cost-saving capital markets products,” said Christian Frahm, founder and CEO of United Fintech.

Also in February, Webedia Esports Agency snapped up SaudiGamer.com, plus Tenable, the cyber exposure company, agreed to acquire security firm Alsid SAS. While, digital money platform Uphold acquired debit and credit card issuer Optimus Cards and Nasdaq completed the acquisition of anti-financial crime management solution provider Verafin.

March
PayPal acquires Curv

PayPal Curv
PayPal
snapped up Israel’s Curv to accelerate and expand its initiatives to support cryptocurrencies and digital assets. Curv, founded in 2018, Curv provides cloud-based infrastructure for digital asset security.

“The acquisition of Curv is part of our effort to invest in the talent and technology to realise our vision for a more inclusive financial system,” said Jose Fernandez da Ponte, vice president and general manager, blockchain, crypto and digital currencies, PayPal.

April

Ripple agreed to acquire 40 per cent of Asia’s cross-border payments specialist Tranglo. Ripple said its investment in Tranglo is a reflection of the company’s deepened commitment to enriching the payments ecosystem in Southeast Asia, the fastest-growing region for RippleNet adoption.

While, YouGov, the international research and data analytics group, acquired open banking startup Lean App. All four of Lean App’s co-founders – Luke Dugdale, Tom Stuart, Max Lascombe and Artur Jurgenson – joined YouGov as part of the deal.

Stephan Shakespeare, CEO and co-founder of YouGov: “We are excited to bring Lean App into the YouGov fold as we continue to invest for growth in line with our strategy. The addition of financial transaction data, alongside the launch of YouGov Safe, expands our capabilities to provide our clients with data that verifies consumer behaviour.”

May
Zip snaps up Twisto and Spotii

Australian payment firm Zip expanded into Europe and the Middle East, with the acquisitions of European BNPL provider Twisto and UAE-based Spotii. The transactions aligned with Zip’s global expansion plans and the rapidly accelerating global BNPL opportunity.

Zip co-founder and CEO Larry Diamond said: “We believe there is a large untapped opportunity to bring BNPL to emerging markets where cash on delivery remains a significant merchant challenge, and where the digitisation of retail accelerates.”

Also in May, fraud prevention company Sift acquired Chargeback. Plus, Triterras Inc, the fintech firm for trade and trade finance, agreed to acquire Invoice Bazaar.

June
Visa agreed to acquire Tink

Visa Tink

Visa agreed to pay €1.8billion for European open banking platform Tink. Tink retained its brand and management team, plus its headquarters remained in Stockholm, Sweden.

Al Kelly, CEO and chairman of Visa, said: “By bringing together Visa’s network of networks and Tink’s open banking capabilities we will deliver increased value to European consumers and businesses with tools to make their financial lives more simple, reliable and secure.”

Fintechs Deposit Solutions and Raisin also completed a merger to form Raisin D. While financial services company Fifth Third announced the acquisition of fintech Provide. Checkout.com also revealed it had acquired Estonian software development firm Icefire. 

July
Starling Bank snaps up Fleet Mortgages
Anne Boden
Starling’s Anne Boden

In July, Starling Bank announced the acquisition of specialist buy-to-let mortgage lender Fleet Mortgages in a £50million cash and share deal. Starling described the deal – the bank’s first acquisition – as part of a wider plan to expand lending through a mix of strategic forward-flow arrangements, organic lending and targeted M&A activity.

Anne Boden, CEO of Starling, said: “The acquisition of Fleet Mortgages is the start of our move into mortgages as an asset class and builds on a number of forward-flow arrangements that we’re doing with leading non-bank lenders.

“Fleet’s existing management team will remain in place and Fleet will continue to operate as a stand-alone company, keeping the original name and brand. We’re buying Fleet because it is very good at what it does, not because we want to change it.”

July also saw cross-border payments leader Thunes acquire Limonetik (which later rebranded to Thunes), while RVU, owners of Uswitch, Confused.com and Money.co.uk, agreed to acquire Mojo Mortgages. In addition, Klarna acquired German fintech Stocard and fintech Rapyd agreed to buy Icelandic firm Arion Bank. 

August

In August, Square Inc. announced plans to acquire Afterpay. Square planned to integrate the buy now, pay later platform into its existing Seller and Cash App business units.

“Square and Afterpay have a shared purpose. We built our business to make the financial system more fair, accessible, and inclusive, and Afterpay has built a trusted brand aligned with those principles,” said Jack Dorsey, co-founder and CEO of Square.

Meanwhile, abrdn acquired Exo Investing from London-based fintech Nucoro. Paysafe also revealed it would acquire payments platform SafetyPay in an all-cash transaction. Swvl expanded into Europe, LATAM and APAC via acquisition of mass transit SaaS platform Shotl. Plus, retail finance platform Deko has announced the acquisition of technology services provider Imegamedia.

September
Mastercard acquires Aiia

AiiaMastercard entered into an agreement to acquire Aiia, the European open banking technology provider. It said Aiia’s expertise in providing safe and secure data access complements Mastercard’s data responsibility principles.

“The addition of Aiia anchors our European open banking efforts and allows us to continue to meet our customers where they are,” said Craig Vosburg, chief product officer, Mastercard.

Also in September, JPMorgan Chase & Co acquired Frank, the college financial planning platform. While, Entrust snapped up Antelop Solutions. Plus, PayPal agreed to acquire Japan’s Paidy, the BNPL payments platform.

October
Lunar snapped up Paylike

Financial services firm Lunar picked up Paylike, the Danish-based and modern full-stack payment platform. The acquistion of the gateway and payment service provider will make it possible for Lunar’s business customers to receive payments from their customers without having to use an intermediary.

Ken Villum Klausen, founder and CEO of Lunar, said: “The new level of the business is moving Lunar beyond banking and is tailored to the defensive Nordic infrastructure. Building a two-sided marketplace for payments connecting consumers and businesses will make life easier for everyone. Payments will be at the forefront of our next growth phase.”

In addition, NatWest announced the acquisition of fintech RoosterMoney in October as part of its strategy to help families and young people more easily manage their money. While, Western Union Company completed its acquisition of a minority stake in stc Bank. Plus, payments giant Stripe acquired payments reconciliation software firm Reck.

November 
Klarna plumps for PriceRunner acquisition

Global retail bank Klarna agreed to acquire PriceRunner in November. PriceRunner’s functionality, including daily price updates, reviews, professional tests and intelligent filtering options, would be added to Klarna’s offering.

David Fock, Klarna’s chief product officer
David Fock of Klarna

David Fock, Klarna’s chief product officer, said:The acquisition will serve to strengthen our bank, card and payment services and support a competitive global landscape. It also further cements that Klarna will not be a marketplace but a viable and competitive alternative for retail partners vs Amazon, Google and Facebook.”

Also in November, US Bank agreed to buy expense and travel management platform TravelBank and United Fintech acquired a 25 per cent stake in London-based FairXchange. Plus, fintech Tintra PLC formed a joint venture with TMC2, via its subsidiary Finsensr. While Sift snapped up Keyless, the passwordless and multi-factor authentication firm.

December
Visa completes acquisition of Currencycloud

Visa CurrencycloudVisa completed the acquisition of Currencycloud in December after marking its intention in July.

“The acquisition of Currencycloud is another example of Visa executing on our network of networks strategy to facilitate global money movement,” said Colleen Ostrowski, Visa’s global treasurer.

“Consumers and businesses increasingly expect transparency, speed and simplicity when making or receiving international payments. With our acquisition of Currencycloud, we can support our clients and partners to further reduce the pain points of cross-border payments and develop great user experiences for their customers.”

December also saw OakNorth unveil its first acquisition snapping up intelligent cashflow business Fluidly. While European open banking platform Tink completed the purchase of German open banking infrastructure fintech FinTecSystems following an announcement in May.

Look back on all our Bi-Weekly News Roundups from 2021.

Author

  • Claire works across print and online as Editor for The Fintech Times.

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