Checkout.com's record funding brings it to untapped markets

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London-based processor Checkout.com’s recent $230 million Series A investment is an indicator of investors’ huge interest in cross-border e-commerce and payments in emerging markets.

The investment, led by Insight Partners and DST Global, values Checkout.com at nearly $2 billion, and represents Europe’s largest fintech Series A round ever and globally the third largest fintech Series A round. It follows recent record payments industry IPOs for the Netherlands’ Adyen, Italy’s Nexi and the UAE’s Network International.

Checkout.com will use the funds to support its growth in Europe, the U.S. and the Middle East, and to expand into Asia and Latin America, with staffing expected to triple over the next three years from its current headcount of 345. The company, which was founded in 2012, had never previously sought external funding. Its clients include Samsung, EasyGroup, Getty Images, Deliveroo, TransferWise and Virgin Active.

“In the developed world, the payments industry is growing by 10% a year, but in emerging markets payments volumes are growing at triple digits,” said Bradley Riss, Checkout.com’s chief commercial officer. “Expanding in untapped emerging markets is a priority for us."

There is still room for new payments service providers (PSPs) for e-commerce merchants, said Aite Group senior analyst Ron van Wezel. “I can't judge if it is the next Stripe or Adyen, but these names and their valuations will certainly have helped to boost investor confidence in Checkout.com’s funding round.”

Despite Checkout.com not being as well known as companies such as Adyen, the magnitude of its funding isn’t a surprise, as it has a proven business model and high-profile clients, said payments industry expert Francesco Burelli.

“Checkout.com’s offering is aligned with the characteristics of the most successful PSPs, as it gives merchants access to all international cards and popular local payment methods through one integration with a single API,” he said. “The online payments space has seen the rise of a few massive players … but, in the growing global e-commerce industry, demand from merchants for online payment services far outstrips the choice of offerings available in the market.”

Historically, major international processors such as Worldpay and FIS have expanded through acquisitions.

“The problem with processors expanding via acquisitions instead of through organic growth is that they end up with disparate technology platforms that are hard to assimilate,” said Riss. “So merchants wanting to operate globally have to connect to different regional platforms provided by these processors.”

Checkout.com so far hasn’t bought any companies, and all its technology is developed in its London HQ.

“This means merchants can offer their customers the same payments experience in whichever region transactions occur,” Riss said.

In the traditional processing model, there are four parties, Riss explained. “A card-accepting merchant connects to a gateway, which connects to a third-party fraud prevention platform system,” he said. “The transaction is sent from the anti-fraud platform back to the gateway and then onto a bank acquirer, which mostly likely uses a third-party processing platform. The acquirer routes the transaction to the appropriate card network, which passes it to the issuer for authorization or denial.”

Checkout.com is a principal member of Visa, Mastercard and other card schemes, and has its own acquiring licence.

“We don’t have any intermediaries between the merchant, the card scheme and the issuer,” said Riss. “This means there is greater reliability and speed for transactions, plus no dilution of data between different parties in the transaction chain. In the four-party processing model, transaction data that was not considered essential was not shared. Also, as we have great control over our costs, we can offer cost parity or cost competition to traditional processors.”

Providing richer access to data means that processors and merchants have greater ability to understand why legitimate transactions are rejected and to improve conversion rates. For a merchant handling $100 million worth of transactions a year, a 1% improvement in conversion rates could mean increasing their top-line by a seven-figure amount.

“Our analytics tools show why legitimate transactions fail and how they can be re-presented to issuers to improve their chances of acceptance,” Riss said.

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