LONDON – Mollie was a relatively little known company prior to Covid-19. Today it is one of the largest fintechs in Europe.
Amsterdam-based online payment processor finally became a more than $ 1 billion “unicorn” in September, more than a decade after it was founded by Dutch entrepreneur Adriaan Mol in 2004.
On Tuesday, Mollie announced that it had raised $ 800 million in a mega funding round that valued the company at $ 6.5 billion. According to data from CB Insights, this makes it the third largest fintech unicorn in Europe after rival company Checkout.com.
Mollie’s founder said the company originally started as a text messaging business but soon switched to payments after trying to incorporate its own system that customers can use to pay their bills.
“I was amazed at how badly this was built by traditional banks,” Mol told CNBC last year. “We created this abstraction layer for the complex systems of the banks. That was the beginning of our payment transactions. “
Shane Happach, who recently replaced Mol as CEO, said the company had chosen to grow organically for several years before tapping outside funding for the first time in 2019 for investor TCV.
After that deal, Mollie was soon flooded with offers from investors, Happach said.
The payment platform of the Dutch fintech start-up Mollie in action.
“We’re trying to build a $ 100 billion company,” he told CNBC. “We know it takes a long time. It’s capital-intensive.”
Mollie’s most recent round of investments, a Series C, was led by Blackstone’s growth stocks investment unit. EQT, General Atlantic, HMI Capital and Alkeon Capital also invested.
Payment competition has intensified over the past decade, with fintech companies like Stripe, Jack Dorsey’s Square and Dutch Adyen all vying for a larger share of the $ 2 trillion market.
In contrast to its American competitors, Mollie says it mainly focuses on transactions with small companies in Europe.
“Many of the bigger players in online payments come from the US, such as PayPal,” said Happach. “Even Visa and Mastercard are US companies.”
“A lot of investors have no bet on Europe,” he added. “Mollie is one of those unique assets that provide exposure.”
Stripe, most recently privately valued at $ 95 billion, raised hundreds of millions of dollars earlier this year to continue expanding in Europe. The company has two headquarters in San Francisco and Dublin.
Mol said his company’s service was “more local” than Stripe’s and not geared towards corporate customers, unlike Adyen and Checkout.com. Onboarding smaller retailers requires “complex” compliance checks that some competitors may not want to focus on, he added.
A big bet on European technology
Last week, French President Emmanual Macron said he hoped Europe would have at least 10 companies worth € 100 billion each by 2030. According to dealroom data, European start-ups have so far collected 45.9 billion euros this year and thus the total investments for the whole of 2020.
“This investment underscores Blackstone’s confidence in Europe as a location for high growth businesses,” said Paul Morrissey, Blackstone Growth’s European investment director, in a statement.
Mollie, who says it is profitable, plans to use the fresh funds for international expansion, both within Europe in countries like the UK and in other regions like Asia and Latin America. In addition, the start-up plans to increase its workforce from 480 to 780 over the next six to nine months.
Digital payments received a big boost from coronavirus lockdown restrictions as more and more retailers relocated their stores online. Mollie said it processed more than € 10 billion in transactions in 2020 and is well on its way to processing more than € 20 billion in payments by the end of this year.
Mollie says it has 120,000 monthly active dealers and is attracting around 400 to 500 new customers every day. The company’s customers include UK grocery delivery app Deliveroo and fitness apparel brand Gymshark.