Morgan Stanley Acquires eTrade in $13 Billion Deal

E*TRADE, the digital brokerage behind the stock trading baby commercials in the early 2000s (remember those?) has agreed to be acquired by investment banking giant Morgan Stanley. The all-stock transaction is valued at $13 billion.

The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year.

Since it was founded in 1982, E*TRADE has built up 5.2 million client accounts and $3.6 billion in assets under management. This will bolster Morgan Stanley’s 3 million client relationships and $2.7 trillion in assets under management. Adding E*TRADE’s digital capabilities to Morgan Stanley’s more traditional offerings will grant Morgan Stanley a more well-rounded approach that ranges from high tech to high touch.

“E*TRADE represents an extraordinary growth opportunity for our Wealth Management business and a leap forward in our Wealth Management strategy. The combination adds an iconic brand in the direct-to-consumer channel to our leading advisor-driven model, while also creating a premier Workplace Wealth provider for corporations and their employees,” said Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman. “In addition, this continues the decade-long transition of our firm to a more balance sheet light business mix, emphasizing more durable sources of revenue.”

Logistically, E*TRADE CEO Mike Pizzi will lead Morgan Stanley’s E*TRADE business and be charged with overseeing the integration. “By joining Morgan Stanley, we will be able to take our combined offering to the next level and deliver an even more comprehensive suite of wealth management capabilities,” said Pizzi. “Bringing E*TRADE’s brand and offerings under the Morgan Stanley umbrella creates a truly exciting wealth management value proposition and enables our collective team to serve a far wider spectrum of clients.”

Today’s deal comes at a time when brokerages across the U.S. are in a race to zero, lowering trading fees as much as possible to compete with consumer attention. Last year Charles Schwab eliminated fees for stock trades and a month later bought TD Ameritrade for $26 billion.

Ally Financial to Acquire CardWorks in $2.65 Billion Deal

Digital financial services company Ally Financial announced this week that it will acquire non-prime credit card and consumer financing company CardWorks. The deal, which has been approved by both companies’ boards, is valued at $2.65 billion ($1.35 billion in cash and $1.3 billion in Ally stock).

The acquisition adds a top-20 U.S. credit card platform and a top-15 merchant acquiring business to Ally Financial’s direct bank deposit, auto financing, insurance, and commercial product lines. The combined entity will serve 11+ million customers in 50 states when the transaction is closed in Q3 of this year.

CardWorks founder, chairman, and CEO Don Berman praised Ally Financial as an “ideal partner” for the “people-centric, compliance-focused” and technology-enabled organization he built in 1987. “In leveraging Ally’s commitment to innovation and adaptiveness, the combined company will be well positioned to meet the financial needs of our ever-growing customer base and deliver sustainable growth and performance,” he said. After the deal is closed, Berman will join both Ally Financial’s Board of Directors as well as the company’s executive management team.

Detroit, Michigan-based Ally Financial was founded 101 years ago as the General Motors Acceptance Corporation (GMAC) and retained that name until 2010. The company is one of the largest auto financing firms in the U.S. by volume, and is a top-20 U.S. bank by assets ($180+ billion). Ally Financial trades on the NYSE under the ticker ALLY, and has a market capitalization of $10 billion.

Ally Financial also has an online bank, Ally Bank, which is headquartered in Sandy, Utah, and offers mortgage financing as well as deposit and other banking services. As part of the acquisition, CardWorks subsidiary Merrick Bank will merge into Ally Bank.

Flywire Closes $120 Million Investment, Acquires Healthcare Payments Platform

It’s a big week for Flywire. The global payments platform made a dual announcement yesterday that it closed a round of funding and sealed the deal on an acquisition.

The $120 million in funding brings Flywire’s total raised to $260 million. Goldman Sachs led the Series E round. The Massachusetts-based company will use the funding to digitize payments across education, healthcare, and travel.

“We are thrilled to lead the Series E round for Flywire”, said Ashwin Gupta, Managing Director at Goldman Sachs’ Merchant Banking Division. “They bring together a unique blend of a payments network, platform and vertical-specific solutions to completely digitize the payments experience for their clients across industries. We look forward to continuing to help accelerate Flywire’s growth.”

Along with the investment news, Flywire unveiled that it has acquired healthcare billing and payment solutions company Simplee for an undisclosed amount. The acquisition blends Flywire’s tech platform with Simplee’s solution that focuses on patients and providers. The combined companies power four of the top ten U.S. healthcare systems and together process $10 billion+ in payments per year.

“Flywire is uniquely built on a global payments network, which is the cornerstone of how we move billions of dollars across 200+ countries and 150 currencies, and an industry-leading payments platform” said Flywire CEO Mike Massaro. “This digital foundation enables us to develop vertical-specific applications that make payments more efficient and cost-effective for our global clients. The Simplee acquisition improves patient engagement and healthcare affordability and extends these capabilities to a broader customer base.”

Flywire, which originally launched has peerTransfer in 2009, has processed $12 billion+ in payments for 2,000 clients. The company has office locations at its headquarters in Boston, as well as Chicago, London, Manchester, Valencia, Shanghai, Singapore, Tokyo, Cluj, and Sydney. 

Worldline to Acquire Ingenico in $8.6 Billion Deal

The combination of Worldline and Ingenico will create the world’s fourth largest payment services provider with 20,000 workers in 50 countries serving nearly one million merchants and 1,200 financial institutions.

Worldline announced today that it would acquire Ingenico for $8.6 billion (€7.8 billion) in a stock and cash deal. The combination would give the new entity broad reach across Europe – blending Ingenico’s strength in Germany, the Nordic countries, and France, with Worldline’s strong presence in Switzerland and Austria. The acquisition also will help the companies expand and take advantage of opportunities in the U.S., Asia, and Latin America.

Worldline Chairman and CEO Gilles Grapinet will be CEO of the combined entity. Bernard Bourigeaud, Ingenico Chairman, will take the role of non-executive Chairman of the Board of Directors once the deal is closed.

“I am proud to announce that today is a great day for Worldline and for Ingenico, and more widely for our Payment industry,” Grapinet said in a statement. “Together we create the European World-Class leader in digital payments.” In praising the Ingenico team and its leadership, Grapinet also highlighted two areas – online payments and merchant acquiring – where he expected the new entity to excel.

In his statement, Bourigeaud put the deal in the context of the other recent mega mergers – FIS and Worldpay, Fiserv and First Data, TSYS and Global Payments – in the payments space. “The combination of Worldline and Ingenico offers a unique opportunity to create the undisputed European champion in payments on par with the largest international players,” he said. “This transaction comes at (a) time of accelerating consolidation of the industry and I am convinced that the joined forces of both leaders will deeply transform the industry.”

Worldline estimates that the new company will have projected 2019 net revenues of $5.8 billion (€5.3 billion) and operating margins of $1.3 billion (€1.2 billion).

An alum of our FinovateEurope conference, Worldline demonstrated its Worldline Connected Piggy Bank solution at our London event in 2017. The offering helps provide financial education for children, encouraging savings at an early age by combining an actual, physical piggy bank with a mobile app and savings account.

Paga Acquires Apposit, Announces Geographic Expansion

Mobile money operator Paga is poised for growth. The Nigeria-based fintech acquired U.S. software company Apposit and announced plans to expand its services geographically.

Apposit was founded in 2007 and builds software to power African tech businesses. The region is, as the company states on its website, a place where “formidable challenges and exceptional opportunities abound.”

Paga will leverage Apposit to expand into Ethiopia, a country that deals with similar cash and payment issues to Nigeria. To help fuel the expansion, the company will tap the experience of Apposit Co-founder and CEO Adam Abate, who will serve as CEO of Paga Ethiopia.

Through the acquisition, Paga Founder and CEO Tayo Oviosu said, “we not only gain a scalable world-class internal engineering team, but we also are in a stronger position to grow our global payments business.”

Paga and Apposit first partnered in 2009. After bringing on Apposit’s 62 employees, Paga’s staff now totals 530+ people. Additionally, the company adds Addis Ababa, London, and Mexico City to its list of office locations.

“Last year we refined our mission and vision to birth our massive transformative purpose: To make it simple for one billion people to access and use money,” added Oviosu. “Apposit has demonstrated strong alignment with our purpose and they have some of the very best engineers I have been privileged to work with, in over two decades in technology in Silicon Valley and elsewhere.”

Terms of today’s deal were not disclosed.

Three Key Lessons We Learned from Plaid

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard that Visa is acquiring Plaid for a deal that’s worth $5.3 billion. Finovate’s own David Penn covered the story for us on Monday, and virtually everyone in the fintech space is talking about it.

What you might not know, though, is that Plaid was on stage at one of our events way back in 2014. At that point they were already well on their way – they were close to signing their 1,000th customer, and they had already signed companies from spaces like lending, payments, expenses and accounting, asset management, and PFM. In the years following their time on stage, we’ve seen countless demoing companies come across our stage who relied on Plaid to underpin their offerings from a wide variety of areas.

The fact that they were so widely used at such an early stage is a testament to the quality of their code, but there are also a few key lessons to take away from their success:

  1. A valuable tool can be worth more than what you build with it. The old saying goes something like “in the gold rush, it’s better to sell pickaxes than mine for gold.” That’s precisely what Plaid did, putting together a product that was attractive to a wide variety of fintech companies to capitalize on the massive wave of fintech startups that came through the last decade. Whether those startups survived or not, Plaid became a part of all of them, guaranteeing their own payday and removing the uncertainty that so many fintech startups faced.
  2. Simplicity is an asset. Plaid’s API is simple to understand,  install, and build on, which has made it attractive to developers from across fintech. This simplicity also means that the tech is highly versatile, floating easily from one field to another.
  3. Connections are vital. At the time that Plaid was gaining momentum, the API world was a very competitive one, with a lot of providers fighting to get adopted. The technology itself was very important, obviously, but so was the work they did in coming to events like FinDEVr to make sure that developers knew what their code could do. The ability to evangelize for your product is crucial to success, and building momentum frequently has to be done through face-to-face connections with influencers in the industry.

There are many more lessons to be drawn from Plaid’s example, but for innovators in the space, those three lessons seem the most important to me. Plaid’s connections, simplicity, and business strategy put them in a position to succeed and become the latest fintech royalty. Congratulations to them on their success, and the challenge is laid out for the rest of the industry to follow in their footsteps.

Raisin’s New Acquisition Gives Company Access to the U.S. Market

European deposit marketplace Raisin announced today it acquired New York-based Choice Financial Solutions. Terms of the acquisition, which marks Raisin’s fourth purchase in the past year, were undisclosed.

Raisin will license Choice FS’ technology to banks in the U.S., a move that will bring the company one step closer to its U.S. launch. Last year, Raisin teased the geographical expansion with the appointment of Paul Knodel as U.S. CEO.

Raisin U.S. CEO Paul Knodel

“Joining forces with Choice Financial Solutions lets Raisin begin offering cutting-edge services to banks and customers before we even launch our U.S. platform,” said Knodel. “As a leading innovator in the deposits space, Raisin sees Choice FS as a perfect fit for our mission in the U.S. deposits market. The enthusiastic market feedback we have already received affirms how ripe the savings space is for just this type of personalization.”

Choice FS has a decade-long track record of providing banks with technology to help their clients save for long-and-short-term goals. The company’s secret sauce is customization– something modern consumers have become accustomed to in today’s era of BigTech solutions. Choice FS allows banks to customize terms, distributions, amounts, and withdrawals to maximize return on savings accounts, creating a highly-personalized savings experience with an intuitive user interface. Company founder and CEO Daniel Smith refers to this personalization as “the missing piece” for banks and depositors.

Raisin was founded in 2012 and has since brokered $20.6 billion (€18.5 billion) for 200,000 customers in 28+ European countries and 90 partner banks. The company provides a free marketplace where consumers can browse European deposit products, ETF portfolios, and, in Germany, pension products.

Visa to Acquire Plaid in $5.3 Billion Deal

Updated 1/14/2020: The first big fintech acquisition of the year just crossed the headlines: Visa has agreed to acquire innovative fintech Plaid for a reported $5.3 billion in “total purchase consideration.”

“Today marks an important milestone for our company and for fintech,” company co-founder and CEO Zach Perret wrote on the Plaid blog earlier today. “What started with two founders building in a cramped conference room has become an incredible network that enables millions of consumers to interact with over 2,500 digital finance products.”

Plaid’s technology connects digital consumers with thousands of apps and services ranging from Transferwise and Betterment to Chime, Acorns, and popular payment app, Venmo. The company estimates that one in four individuals with a U.S. bank account have used Plaid to connect with thousands of developers across 11,000+ financial institutions.

Visa said the acquisition will bolster the company’s capacity to serve and reputation with fintech developers – especially when it comes to providing them with enhanced payment functionality and related value-added services. Visa also believes the acquisition will help open new business opportunities both in the U.S. and around the world.

“We are extremely excited about our acquisition of Plaid and how it enhances the growth trajectory of our business,” Visa CEO and chairman Al Kelly said. “Plaid is a leader in the fast growing fintech world with best-in-class capabilities and talent. The acquisition, combined with our many fintech efforts already underway, will position Visa to deliver even more value for developers, financial institutions, and consumers.”

Visa participated in Plaid’s Series C round in 2018, which was led by Index Ventures and Kleiner Perkins. The company raised $250 million in that funding raising effort. Plaid began the year with an acquisition of its own, purchasing account aggregation and data analytics technology provider Quovo in January of 2019. The value of that deal was not disclosed; Bloomberg reported that the sticker price for Quovo could have been as high as $200 million. Quovo, incidentally, is also a FinDEVr alum, participating in our New York developers conference in 2017.

Plaid demonstrated its technology at FinDEVrSiliconValley in 2014, demonstrating how its API for Financial Infrastructure enabled developers to leverage data quickly, efficiently, and securely power fintech applications. Headquartered in San Francisco, California and founded in 2012, Plaid had raised $310 million in funding previous to today’s announcement.

The ripples from the acquisition news are reverberating throughout the fintech community. And while some are worried about the ability of the innovative startup from San Francisco continue to drive change in the industry, others are busy heralding the news as a victory for fintech and incumbent financial services firms, alike.

Indeed, the acquisition of Plaid by Visa has put other fintechs involved in financial data on notice that they too may hear an inquiring knock on their proverbial doors. One observer on Twitter asked “Will $MA pick up Finicity now?” As of this writing, neither company has deigned to comment.

Nebula Merges with Open Lending, Forming a New Publicly Traded Company

Lending solutions provider Open Lending has agreed to merge with Nebula Acquisition Corporation, an acquisition company sponsored by True Wind Capital.

The merger will take place via an acquisition in which, once finalized, Nebula will purchase Open Lending and form a new Delaware holding company called Open Lending Corporation. The new entity will be publicly-traded on NASDAQ with an estimated value of $1.3 billion.

Members of Open Lending’s executive team– John Flynn, cofounder, president, and CEO; and Ross Jessup, cofounder, CFO, and COO– will lead the new company. Flynn commented that there is “significant runway” for new growth, considering Open Lending’s existing banking relationships and “untapped opportunities” with new partnerships.

Open Lending was founded in 2000 and offers automated lending solutions to banks, specializing in automotive lending. Ultimately, Open Lending helps banks offer near-prime borrowers more attractive borrowing rates without changing the risk profile for the bank. In 2019, Open Lending facilitated more than $1.7 billion in automotive loans for 275+ financial institutions.

“Open Lending’s ability to demonstrate consistent organic growth and high levels of profitability represents an exciting investment opportunity within the risk-based analytics ecosystem,” said Adam Clammer, Nebula co-CEO and founding partner of True Wind. “John and his team have developed a highly-scalable technology platform that helps hard working consumers get into a new or used car at the best rate possible. We look forward to partnering with Open Lending’s management team and Bregal at this exciting inflection point in the company’s growth.”

PayPal Buys Rewards Platform in $4 Billion Deal

Payments titan PayPal is shelling out $4 billion today in a transaction to purchase Honey, an online shopping and rewards platform. The deal is PayPal’s 20th acquisition and closely follows the California-based company’s arrangement with GoPay last month that gives it a 70% ownership in the China-based company.

PayPal, which offers solutions for both end consumers and merchants, will leverage Honey to create a better experience for the end customer while giving its merchant clients a boost through increased sales and customer engagement.

Honey brings with it a network of 30,000 online retailers and 17 million monthly active users. PayPal will be able to engage with these shoppers while they are still at the beginning of their online purchasing experience. Leveraging access PayPal’s 275+ million active customers and network of 24 million merchant accounts, Honey will be able to scale up its user base considerably.

Calling today’s purchase as one of the “most transformative” in the company’s history, PayPal President and CEO Dan Schulman went on to praise Honey for its ability to improve the online shopping experience. “The combination of Honey’s complementary consumer products with our platform will significantly enhance our ability to drive engagement and play a more meaningful role in the daily lives of our consumers,” Schulman said. “As a partner of choice for our merchants, this is another way that we can help them build and strengthen their customer relationships, provide personalized offers, and drive incremental sales.”

Logistically, Honey will stay intact, maintaining its headquarters in Los Angeles. The company’s co-founders George Ruan and Ryan Hudson will continue to lead the Honey team, reporting to PayPal’s Senior Vice President John Kunze.

PayPal showcased its Instant Account Creation feature at FinovateFall 2012. The company has a market capitalization of $120 billion.

FICO Acquires EZMCOM

Analytics and decision management technology company FICO announced two new products this week as it snapped up security access provider EZMCOM. Transactional details of the acquisition were undisclosed.

The acquisition has facilitated the launch of FICO Identity Proofing, digital onboarding technology; and FICO User Authentication, a suite of multi-factor, biometric, and behavioral authentication capabilities.

EZMCOM was founded in 2006. The company’s identity proofing, biometric, behavioral and risk-based authentication technology is used by tier-1 banks across the globe, ultimately serving 60 million customers.

“As our clients expand their digital offerings, they are requesting more sophisticated identity proofing and authentication capabilities to complement our fraud, compliance, customer lifecycle, and customer engagement applications,” said FICO CTO Claus Moldt. “Behavioral and biometric authentication are becoming the gold standard to prevent identity spoofing and improve customer protection, while reducing friction. By adding this technology to our portfolio, we will provide our clients with a seamless approach to authentication and customer onboarding – across digital channels, mobile devices, servers and workstations.”

Founded in 1956 as Fair Isaac Corporation, FICO presented “Rapidly Deliver Contextually-Powered Stream Processing” at FinDEVr New York 2016. 

Q2 Closes Acquisition of PrecisionLender

Last week, Q2 completed its sixth acquisition since its 2004 launch. The digital banking services company closed the books on a $510 million deal to purchase PrecisionLender, a sales enablement platform.

“We are thrilled with the outstanding talent, culture and industry expertise the PrecisionLender team brings to the Q2 family,” said Q2 CEO Matt Flake. “We are also excited about the potential we have to help our customers improve margins, profitability and the quality of their relationship with their key accounts using our combined data insights and commercial banking solutions.”

Q2 will leverage PrecisionLender to further its corporate banking expertise and solidify its leadership in digital banking. Going forward, PrecisionLender will operate as Precision Lender, a Q2 company.

Q2 debuted Q2 Biller Direct at FinovateSpring 2018 and the company’s CIO Lou Senko made a cameo appearance in ALTR’s demo at FinovateFall earlier this year.