Nordic IT company EVRY announced this week it is planning to sell to Finnish IT company Tieto in a deal worth $1.5 billion.
Tieto’s goal in the deal is to create a Nordic digital consultancy software offering, cloud solutions, robotics, and other services. The new group is slated to have 24,000 employees and annual revenues of $3.4 billion (€3 billion).
“This combination announced today will create a company well positioned to be a leading provider of digital transformation across the Nordics for the benefit of our customers, employees, shareholders and the society,” said Kimmo Alkio, President and CEO of Tieto. “I believe we will create exciting opportunities for professional and personal growth for employees in both companies – and a strong value proposition for our customers. I foresee a very exciting journey ahead.”
In order to close, the deal requires support from two-thirds of the shareholders in each firm. The deal is expected to close in the last quarter of this year but negotiations may drag into the first quarter of 2020.
The new company will be called TietoEVRY and will serve thousands of clients across 90 countries. Alkio will be CEO of the combined company, while EVRY’s current CEO Per Hove will continue in his role until the deal closes. TietoEVRY will be headquartered in Espoo, Finland.
EVRY certainly has lots of promise. This week’s announcement comes six months after the company landed an eight year, $75 million contract with Handelsbanken in Finland, and seven months after partnering with Bankgirot in a seven-year deal worth $77 million.
EVRY demonstrated its PFM solution, Spendific, at FinovateEurope 2015. EVRY arrives at today’s deal with more than 10,000 customers across the private and public sectors and 8,800 employees across nine countries. The company is listed on the Oslo stock exchange under the ticker “EVRY AS” and has a market capitalization of $1.2 billion.
By this point, you already know about Libra, Facebook’s cryptocurrency, and the corresponding Calibra Wallet (if you don’t, check out TechCrunch’s deep dive).
There has been plenty of controversy about the new currency, from privacy concerns to complaints about the “decentralized” model giving too many big players too much power. But one of the public’s concerns, security, is in good hands.
That’s because bug bounty and vulnerability disclosure platform HackerOne is working with Facebook to find security vulnerabilities in the code of Move, the cryptocurrency’s open-source programming language. The bug bounty is being conducted in addition to the Libra Association’s testnet available on GitHub.
“The Libra Association is a global effort and so is the Libra Bug Bounty Program. We will be globally inclusive as we promote researcher contributions from all over the world and host bug bounty events in diverse locations,” said the Libra association.
HackerOne offers a platform that recruits security researchers and white hat hackers to identify security weaknesses for its clients, including Twitter, Airbnb, Uber, Yelp, and the U.S. Department of Defense. Since it was founded in 2012, 1,300+ organizations have partnered with HackerOne to find over 120,000 vulnerabilities and award over $51 million in bug bounties.
Cloud accounting firm Xero announced a champion move for small businesses today that will not only help businesses get paid faster, but also give them more options on how they get paid.
“Small businesses are fundamental to the growth of major and developing economies around the world; ensuring that they get paid on time is vital to their survival and growth,” said Craig Walker, Founding CTO and Executive General Manager Platform Business Technologies at Xero. “We built the Xero platform to help small businesses grow with better tools, smarter insights and comprehensive connections to the information they need to run their business. Our partnership with Stripe today brings us even closer to helping small businesses spend less time chasing payments, and more time focusing on doing what they love.”
The two are working on solutions to make client invoicing more efficient and to offer more insight into business performance. The first two tools being launched under the partnership are the Stripe Feed and Auto Pay.
The new data feed from Stripe makes it easy for businesses to receive transaction data on sales and invoices in the Xero platform. Prior to today’s integration, Xero facilitated Stripe reconciliation for credit card payments processed through Stripe. The partnership will automatically integrate every payment processed through Stripe, from online invoices to Shopify purchases and processing charges, as individual line items in Xero.
Xero will use machine learning to automatically reconcile transactions. The company said that the new Stripe Feed will be available “in the next few months.”
With Auto Pay, businesses can set up and receive recurring payments for repeat billing customers in Xero. This will come in handy for a multitude of businesses, as Xero reports that more than 1.6 million repeating invoices are paid in Xero month-over-month. This feature will soon be available to customers in the U.S. and eventually roll out across the globe.
The companies have found that small businesses using Stripe payments in Xero invoices, when compared to those without a payment gateway, are already paid up to 15 days faster globally, and up to 16 days faster in North America.
Xero offers its 1.8 million subscribers access to an ecosystem of 700+ third party apps and 200+ bank connections. The company most recently presented at FinDEVr San Francisco 2014 when the company’s Head of U.S. Partnerships David Pollock spoke about building an API-driven ecosystem for small businesses. At FinovateSpring 2011, CEO Rod Drury debuted the company’s Business Identification solution.
Founded in 2006, Xero listed on the New Zealand Stock Exchange (NZX) in 2007 and the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) in 2012. In January of 2018, the company consolidated to list solely on the ASX and now boasts a market capitalization of $5.9 billion ($8.6 billion AUD). Xero has raised more than $319 million (NZ$470 million) in funding, including $1.4 million pre-IPO; $10.2 million at its IPO; and follow-on rounds from investors including Peter Thiel, Matrix Capital Management, and Accel Partners.
Open banking expert Tokenreceived $16.5 million in a round of funding led by Opera Tech Ventures, the venture arm of BNP Paribas. The investment brings the company’s total funding to $35 million.
Also participating in today’s round are two banks headquartered in the Middle East and Southeast Asia, as well as existing investors Octopus Ventures and EQT Ventures. California-based Token will use the funds to build on its TokenOS open banking platform and develop new payment solutions with digital money and identity technology.
“As the emerging category leader in open banking infrastructure, Token gives banks a fast track to deliver great open banking customer experiences,” said Token Founder and CEO Steve Kirsch. “For banks, establishing an early position in this new hyper-connected market is a competitive advantage; a new wave of independent financial apps and services will soon be available to their customers, so banks need to be clear about their future roles. By solving the infrastructure problem, Token enables them to focus on service innovation and delivery earlier than the competition.”
Founded in 2015, Token was built on the mission to create the next generation of payment capabilities. The company has 4,000 bank clients in its ecosystem in which participating online merchants to connect to the bank to allow the customer to make purchases directly from their bank accounts. Among Token’s clients are Tandem Bank, Think Money Group, An Post, Sberbank Croatia and Slovenia, and Khaleeji Commercial Bank.
Token showcased its PSD2 compliant solution at FinovateEurope 2017 in London. Last month, the company partnered with Omni Group to provide open banking and PSD2 compliance solutions to the group’s bank partners. This year, Token won Best Payments Newcomer in the 2019 Card and Payments Awards as well as Fintech Start Up of the Year in the 2019 FStech Awards.
Mary Meeker, general partner at Bond Capital, a VC firm she founded, released her Internet Trends Report this week at Recode’s Code conference. The report, which aims to deconstruct the future of the internet, has come to be a yearly highlight for techies since 1995, as it contains data and insights on nearly every aspect of the internet.
At 333 pages long, the report contains a wealth of information relevant to a range of industries, so we’ve dissected a quick look at some of the details that are relevant and useful specifically for banking and fintech.
The number of internet users is at 50% global penetration but growth is slowing.
The Asia Pacific opportunity persists: Asia Pacific claims 21% of global internet users. The U.S. trails at 8%.
Ecommerce growth is “solid” and up from last year.
Customer acquisition costs are rising and have been steadily increasing over time.
Customers try a new service if they see a positive product recommendation or if they can first use a freemium version. In fact, Meeker said the freemium strategy as a business model is “just getting started.”
Investment from VCs, public stock exchanges, and IPOs remains high.
The best ways to engage with audiences are through short form video or voice engagement, such as podcasts or Amazon Echo, which now has 4.7 million users (up 2x since last year).
Cyber attacks are on the rise but the time it takes to detect them is falling.
Digital payments account for more than 50% of daily transactions.
In the report, Meeker also mentioned specific fintechs and their growth. Including:
China’s Alipay has 1 billion users, up 2x in two years.
South Korea’s Toss has 12 million users, up 2x in one year.
Revolut has 4 million users, up 2x in 10 months.
Brazil’s NuBank has 9 million customers, up 2x in one year.
Latin America’s Mercado Libre has had 389 million transactions, up 2x in two years.
Read the full report or check out Recode’s bullet point breakdown to get a gist of the fuller picture.
For years, startups have resisted going public; avoiding IPOs. At the same time, merger and acquisition (M&A) activity is at an all-time high. We’re taking a look at why startups are increasingly taking the M&A exit route over listing publicly, and why it’s a good thing (for fintech, anyway).
IPOs down, M&A up
According to Quartz, the average age of publicly listed companies in the U.S. has increased from 12 years old to 20 years old since 1997. During that same time period, the number of American firms publicly listed in the U.S. shrank from 7,500 to 3,618. Echoing those findings, the Harvard Business Review reports that the number of publicly listed companies has declined by almost 50% since 1996, when the number peaked.
On the Finovate blog, we’ve covered 17 M&A deals so far this year. Compare that to last year, when we covered 46 merger and acquisition deals; and 2017, when we covered 29 mergers and acquisitions; and 2016’s total of 26. In the same vein, KPMG reports that the number of global M&A deals in fintech soared to more than 120 in the first quarter of 2018, totaling $22 billion. This is due primarily to consolidation of key segments. Large exits so far this year include TSYS and IDology — with eToro, InComm, Envestnet, and SumUp all having made major acquisitions.
Why not IPO?
Here are a few reasons why becoming acquired is more appetizing than going public:
There’s no shortage of VC funding (yet)
A grow-fast-and-get-acquired strategy is easier than a strategy to IPO, which requires long-term profitability planning
Mergers and acquisitions are less costly than IPOs; underwriting and registration costs for IPOs add up to an average of 14% of the funds raised
IPOs have a bad track record. The public markets have been tough environments for OnDeck and Lending Club, which both went public in 2014.
IPOs are time consuming– taking anywhere from six to nine months to complete– and can take management’s focus away from business operations until the IPO is finalized.
Fintech hold outs
There are plenty of fintechs that would make good IPO candidates who are waiting to go public. Many of these companies have been in the industry for a decade or longer, and some have valuations upwards of $1 billion.
Take personal finance company SoFi, for example, a San Francisco-based company that’s valued at $4.3 billion. In February, CEO Anthony Noto told Barron’s that the company isn’t planning an IPO for this year, though Noto said that the company’s long-term goal is to go public. This comes after former CEO Michael Cagney said the company would likely go public in 2018 or 2019.
Payroll and HR innovator Gusto is valued at $2 billion. The company, also headquartered in San Francisco, has a different view on going public. In fact, Gusto Founder and CEO Josh Reeves said that it isn’t the company’s end goal. “There are pros and cons to being a public company, and we believe that today, the benefits of Gusto staying private outweigh the benefits of being public,” Reeves said. “An IPO isn’t our end-goal; instead, it’s creating a world where work empowers a better life. We currently serve more than 1% of all employers in the U.S., which is an accomplishment we’re incredibly proud of, but we realize we still have a lot more work to do. Building Gusto to its full potential is a multi-decade mission for me.”
Founded in 2009, Atlanta-based Kabbage has been an alternative source of small business financing for almost 10 years. In an interview with Inc., Kathryn Petralia, Kabbage co-founder and president said, “An IPO is a huge distraction. It’s not just any fundraising event, it’s a really, really complicated transparent fundraising event that brings with it a lot of extra work– forever.” Regarding potential timing on taking Kabbage public, Petralia said, “There’s going to be a time for that, I suspect. But right now… it just doesn’t make sense.”
And in an interview with TechCrunch last year, Betterment CEO Jon Stein told the interviewer that going public is “something that we want to ultimately do.” He added, “we continue to drive towards it, and I believe we’re in a great position. We’re audited, we have an amazing finance team, we’ve got great risk management, security processes… all of those things that companies that are preparing to IPO ought to be doing.”
Good for fintech
So why is the M&A exit route beneficial over an IPO for the fintech industry? First, it keeps the fintech company loyal to its acquirer instead of shareholders. By focusing on an acquiring firm’s or bank’s bottom line instead of its own, fintechs are contributing to the bigger picture of banking.
Additionally, M&As tend to stimulate collaborative projects that benefit both financial services clients as well as end customers. Ultimately, working with tangential players in the market helps foster innovation.
Crypterium, a company that turns cryptocurrencies into fiat money, launched its long-promised prepaid card today.
The Crypterium Card is loaded with cryptocurrencies and functions just like a traditional prepaid card in that it can be used with online and brick-and-mortar merchants. With this functionality, the card overcomes one of the biggest hurdles to cryptocurrency usage since the number of merchants who accept cryptocurrency is limited.
“One of the major barriers to general crypto acceptance has been the fact that it is very difficult to spend cryptocurrency in the real world, and any solutions offered so far have been confined to specific countries or retailers,” said Crypterium CEO Steven Parker. “But the beauty of cryptocurrencies is that they are designed to be borderless and global. The Crypterium Card lives up to this borderless, global ideal: anyone can apply for one and start using their cryptocurrencies to pay for things in everyday life. This has the potential to take off as quickly as NFC.”
The Crypterium Card is available in any country across the globe and has generous spending limits of up to $10,000 per day or $60,000 per month. The card is linked to the Crypterium Wallet, which the company debuted at FinovateFall 2018.
The Crypterium Wallet is available in the company’s app and allows users to manage, store, and purchase a range of cryptocurrencies– including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and Crypterium’s CRPT token. Similar to other prepaid wallet apps, the Crypterium Wallet offers bank-like functionality such as spending analysis and money (both fiat and crypto) transfers. And because Crypterium is integrated with the top 10 exchanges, consumers can also use the app to follow real-time exchange rates and get the best rate for each transaction.
Perhaps coincidentally, Crypterium competitor Coinbaseannounced today that its debit card, the Coinbase Card, has expanded its geographical reach. Once limited to U.K. users, the card is now available for users in Spain, Germany, France, Italy, Ireland, and the Netherlands.
Crypterium is headquartered in Estonia and first listed its CRPT tokens on the HitBTC exchange last March. Last May, the company appointed former CEO of Visa U.K., Marc O’Brien, as CEO.