Ant’s halted IPO highlights its power in payments
With a history of regulatory confrontations with the Chinese government, it’s clear that Ant’s size is both a benefit to consumers as well as a potential concern.
If the right balance can be established between customer rights and competitive services, Ant’s influence on the world stage – and one day IPO - will be welcomed by many - especially payments providers and other fintech players.
Ant Financial’s planned IPO would have had a profound impact on the global payment sector. If it had taken place, the public offering would have been the biggest in history, giving the mega-startup the cash to expand into other areas of Asia, and to compete with their local payment champions.
While the company deals with the regulatory issues that stopped its fundraising, we can take time to reflect on whether the region can really afford one giant, dominant payments player - or whether it should ever have one.
A company like Ant, which boasts over a billion users, can monopolise the industry, leading to unfair competition and data breaches. Regulatory measures need to be adopted and strengthened to ensure that customers are protected and getting the best services. Let’s not stifle the other innovators out there and damage consumer rights.
Evgenia Loginova, co-founder and co-CEO, Radar Payments
“Even with the IPO on hold, Ant’s dominance is secured as well as its influence as a major fintech”
Volume or value
The world of payments has proven again and again that, to win, you usually need to play a volume game or a value game, where the customer is covered end-to-end with all services.
As a nimble tech giant, Ant has done both. By branching out as a digital finance technology platform and licensing out its technology to financial services businesses, Ant can now provide loans, insurance and investment options on Alipay to entrepreneurs and consumers.
With so much to offer, Alipay has attracted 1bn active users around the world, and over 80m merchants on its platform. Its influence on the world stage has also been welcomed by payments providers, as well as fintech players.
The startup is already offering more opportunities for global fintechs and banks to partner and work together to deliver better services for customers. They include everyone from cross border payments firms to traditional financial firms and credit card companies.
Ant is also investing heavily in leading fintech payment firms that are shaping the future of omnichannel purchasing, such as Klarna, which is a unicorn in its own right. Together, these two titans could transform the omnichannel experience in ways that put the customer experience first, and ensure that merchants have loyalty for their businesses, too.
Ant has profoundly transformed the global payments space with Alipay, appealing to consumers by lowering costs and driving innovation at lightning speed. Even with the IPO on hold, Ant’s dominance is secured as well as its influence as a major fintech. Its success highlights just how far the sector has come and the revolutionary role it continues to play in shaping the global financial sector.
Payment startup Mollie raises US$800m at a $6.5bn valuation
Mollie, one of the fastest-growing payment processors within Europe, today announced it has raised US$800m in a Series C funding round, now valuing the company at $6.5bn. The valuation, based on Dealroom data, makes Mollie the third most valuable privately-held European fintech behind Klarna and Checkout.com.
Blackstone Growth (BXG), Blackstone’s growth equity investing business, led the investment and included participation from EQT Growth, General Atlantic, HMI Capital and Alkeon Capital. TCV who led the Series B investment in September 2020 also participated in the funding round.
According to the company, the funding will fuel Mollie’s international expansion, team scaling, and continued investment in product and engineering.
“There’s something very special about Mollie. In the three months since I joined the team we’ve achieved so much: making preparations for a full launch in the UK, driving 600% growth in Germany and hiring an impressive set of team members and executives,” said Shane Happach, CEO, Mollie. “Over the past months, Mollie has been receiving a remarkable amount of interest from some of the world’s foremost fintech investors. In bringing on BXG, we believe we have an investor who can help Mollie in our next phase of growth. The involvement of our new group of investors demonstrates confidence in Mollie’s growth, strategy and product set.”
The Amsterdam-based business was launched in 2004, and is one of the largest PSPs in Europe. Today, it serves more than 120,000 monthly active merchants of all sizes across the continent. During 2020, Mollie processed more than 10 billion Euros in transactions and is on track to handle more than 20 billion Euros during 2021.
“Mollie is one of Europe’s most exciting high-growth businesses and is at the forefront of enabling next-generation payments for online SMEs across Europe. We are excited to partner with Mollie’s fantastic team and look forward to leveraging Blackstone’s capital, expertise and global network to unlock the company’s next phase of growth,” said Paul Morrissey, who leads European investing for Blackstone Growth. “This investment underlines Blackstone’s confidence in Europe as a place for high-growth companies to thrive.”
In Europe, FinTech app usage grew by 72% directly after the pandemic outbreak, while the top seven digital banks in the US grew their cumulative user base by 39% throughout the year. Competition in payments has grown over the past few years with fintech players like Stripe, Square and Netherlands-based Adyen all competing for a bigger share of the market.
Unlike its American rivals, Mollie says it mainly focuses on transactions with small businesses in Europe. Shane Happach, CEO of Mollie said: “A lot of the bigger players in online payments come out of the US, like PayPal,”. Adding that even Visa and Mastercard are US companies.
“A lot of investors don’t have a bet on Europe,” Happach said. “Mollie’s one of those unique assets that offers exposure.