scorecardHere's why the company that takes payments for Facebook, AirBnB and Spotify is worth $1.5 billion
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Here's why the company that takes payments for Facebook, AirBnB and Spotify is worth $1.5 billion

Here's why the company that takes payments for Facebook, AirBnB and Spotify is worth $1.5 billion
Tech3 min read


Flickr/David Goehring

December's valuation saw Adyen counted as a "unicorn."

Dutch payment company Adyen ended 2014 with a bang.

In December, the payment processing platform, which counts Facebook, AirBnB, and Spotify as clients, raised $250 million (£161 million) at a $1.5 billion (£970 million) valuation.

Adyen CCO Roelant Prins sat down with us at Wired Money to explain why the company is worth so much. It all boils down to the fact that the payments industry is huge, but doesn't really work very well right now.

Adyen thinks it's found a way to do payments more efficiently and in the process make more money for clients.

The old system of payments involves lots of different parties doing lots of different things, each one handling things like risk, banks, and merchants. Because of the complexity and the fact that a lot of the systems are old, there's a lot of waste.

"A big problem for merchants is that about 15% of credit card payments are refused, but only about 25% of that is because of insufficient funds," Prins says. "A lot of it can be dealt with."

"Some is actually caused by the fact that the existing infrastructure in payments is old. Banks that issue credit cards have their own systems that were built a long time ago. Then the acquiring banks that have dominated this space for a long time have a very old systems, typically 30-40 years old. You have these older systems talking to one another to try and make payments work."

Adyen combines all the pieces of the payments puzzle - payment gateway, risk assessment, and acquiring technology- into one platform that lets companies take any number of payment methods worldwide: credit and debit cards, Apple Pay, and even bitcoin.

Prins says that merchants using Adyen's platform see another 2-4% of credit card payments go through. That might not seem like a lot but for companies like AirBnB that do huge amounts of business, it can make a big difference to their bottom line.

Adyen currently processes $35 billion (£22.5 billion) in payments annually for its merchants, and about 2-3 million payments a day. While that means the company is doing pretty well, it's still only dealing with a tiny part of the payments industry.

"But that's the beauty of it," says Prins. "The massive opportunity we have. In terms of VC speak, the "addressable market" is massive. That also explains the big valuations you see in payments."

Adyen isn't the only fintech startup tackling this problem - companies like Currency Cloud, Klarna, and Stripe are all looking at payment processing.

Adyen is now planning to add in-store payments to its repertoire. Like online payments, there's needless complexity here too.

"Let's take an international retailer like Louis Vuitton, for example," Prins says. "They will have local contracts and local solutions in every market in Europe to take point-of-sale payments. But we can do this on Adyen's single platform, the same platform the company uses to take payments online, so that all the data is combined."

All that data has multiple applications. It can let the store know that a customer has shopped at their online store before, or at another location, so they can build their loyalty schemes on the same platform and reduce the risk of fraud.

"More data - better risk - less fraud - more revenue," Prins points out.

Prins says that the company doesn't have any further funding plans right now - everything is centred on growth. Adyen has been doubling its revenues for the last few years, and expects to double those again to $300 million (£193 million) this year.

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