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Visa Agrees to Buy Plaid for $5.3 Billion

Visa has agreed to buy start-up fintech Plaid, a group that connects firms to customers’ bank accounts, in one of the largest recent fintech deals made by the payments firm.

Posted: 14th January 2020 by
Jacob Mallinder
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For $5.3 billion, Visa has agreed to acquire the Silicon Valley start-up Plaid, a firm that is already backed by huge tech investors such as Mary Meeker and Andreessen Horowitz as well as Goldman Sachs. It was valued in 2018 at $2.65bn and is now already worth twice as much.

For visa, this transactions means a deeper push into the ever-growing fintech sector, particularly after is bought a minority stake in Klarna in 2017.

Plaid is a software provider that enables other fintechs and payments services to access customer bank accounts and details, enabling smoother handling of information for financial planning apps, money transfer apps and so forth.

Al Kelly, chief executive and chairman of Visa, said: “This acquisition is the natural evolution of Visa's 60-year journey from safely and securely connecting buyers and sellers to connecting consumers with digital financial services.”

“The combination of Visa and Plaid will put us at the epicentre of the fintech world, expanding our total addressable market and accelerating our long-term revenue growth trajectory,” he continued, according to the FT.

Reporting on the agreed acquisition, Forbes fintech expert Jeff Kauflin believes Visa is strategically acquiring plaid for the sake of its relationships and partners: “Plaid’s 2019 revenue was between $100 and $200 million… Visa would be paying a sky-high price of 35 times sales, one of the highest price-sales multiples in recent history for a private company.

“Visa’s primary reasons for buying Plaid are twofold. First, Plaid works with the vast majority of the largest fintech apps in the US, including Venmo, Square Cash, Chime, Acorns, Robinhood, and Coinbase. With the acquisition, Visa gets access to an important, ballooning base of customers that it can sell additional payment services to. Second, Visa has a global network that’s unparalleled in financial technology, with millions of customers across 200 countries. That will make it much easier for Visa to take Plaid global.”

On the other hand, Stefano Vaccino, founder and CEO of Yapily, believes that this is just the first of many moves by card operators, in anticipation of the changes to the way we pay, powered by Open Banking: "It’s great to see big players positioning themselves in the world of open banking and open finance, this will help to accelerate the sector’s growth even further. 

“Card payments are expensive for merchants to process, and with two-factor authentication on its way in the second part of this year, there will be an increased layer of friction. Payments through Open Banking will offer a smoother and more secure way to pay, and will provide an opportunity for merchants to decrease costs and transfer these benefits to consumers.

“This space will be disrupted hugely as the possibilities of open finance are realised, and incumbents must innovate to remain relevant.”

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