CNBC Disruptor and Finovate alum Marqeta raised $1.2 billion in an initial public offering on the Nasdaq Exchange on Wednesday. The Oakland, California-based payment processor ended its first day as a public company with a market capitalization of more than $16 billion.
“We’re just scratching the surface of what’s possible with modern card issuing,” Marqeta founder and CEO Jason Gardner said in the company’s blog reporting the news. “I feel fortunate to be in the position I’m in, leading a company of incredibly talented people as we take the next step in enabling modern money movement for many of the world’s leading innovators.”
What does Marqeta’s IPO mean for the company going forward? And does the company’s public debut say anything about investors’ attitudes toward fintech and financial services companies more generally? Here are a handful of ideas.
The Coast is Clear!
A strong public debut for Marqeta could hint at an even more impressive performance by better-known fintechs like SoFi and Robinhood that are reportedly looking to go public later this year. Compared to payment processing, with all due respect, it is easy to imagine investors being enticed by an online lender transitioning to a broad-based comprehensive personal finance platform. And even if the meme stock mania of 2020 has cooled off a bit, I suspect that investors will be willing to line up around the proverbial block to get a piece of the fintech’s most notorious, no-fee online stock broker.
Public Investment = Public Scrutiny
Now a public company, Marqeta may face criticism over its business model, which relies heavily on interchange fees generated via transactions on its platform. Having issued 320+ million cards through its platform as of the end of March, and processing $60 billion in volume last year, the company itself noted in its prospectus that interchange fees are “subject to intense legal and regulatory scrutiny.” And while there are no clear changes to the regulatory environment in sight with regard to interchange fees, the fact that the now-public company will be more vulnerable to the appearance of “scrutiny” will be something for Marqeta to deal with – ideally by adding to and diversifying its revenue sources.
Playing the E-commerce Gold Rush
Marqeta was one of a number of fintechs that saw its business boom during the COVID-19 pandemic. The company reported that its revenue soared 2x to more than $290 million in 2020 as millions of locked down, quarantined, sheltered-in-place consumers flocked to digital channels to purchase a growing range of products and services online. The question for many companies, including Marqeta, is whether or not these trends will endure. Gardner points to the increase in ordering via on-demand services apps and the rise of buy-now-pay-later offerings as developments that could keep the pace of online commerce at a high level. If he is correct then Marqeta could have the time it needs to add more key customers (according to Financial Times, most of Marqeta’s business arrives via small business payments processor Square) and broaden out its network to better compete with rivals like PayPal.