Europe’s fintech sector is fiercely competitive, with private start-ups worth tens of billions of dollars competing for market share with incumbent banks.
Oscar Wang | time | Getty Images
LONDON — Nium, a $2 billion digital payments startup based in Singapore, has big plans for its European business.
The company, whose software helps businesses manage cross-border money flows, is in talks to complete an acquisition worth up to $400 million to spur expansion on the continent, the CEO and co said. -founder Prajit Nanu at CNBC.
“Europe is a really big deal for us,” Nanu, who is now based in San Francisco, said in an interview in London. The company is in talks to buy an enterprise-focused payments business worth “between $20 million and $400 million,” he added.
Of its global workforce of 1,000, Nium currently has around 150 employees based in Europe and plans to hire 100 more over the next 12 months, Nanu said.
The company is on track to generate around $150 million in global annual revenue this year, with between $80 million and $90 million in sales coming from Europe, according to Nium’s CEO.
It’s a relatively unknown name in the fintech world, but Nium is growing fast. The company recently hit a $2 billion valuation and has attracted notable investors including Visa and Singapore-based public investment firm Temasek.
The start-up competes with incumbent banking operators as well as other fintech companies, such as Britain’s Wise and Australia’s Airwallex. It counts fellow fintechs Currencycloud – which was bought by Visa last year – and Transfergo among its clients.
Europe’s fintech sector is fiercely competitive, with private start-ups worth tens of billions of dollars competing for market share with incumbent banks. Buy now, pay later fintech Klarna was last valued at $46 billion, while payments companies Checkout.com and Revolut are now worth $40 billion and $33 billion, respectively.
But the Nium CEO is betting there’s plenty of room for startups like his, which focus on managing payments for businesses rather than consumers.
Nium’s European division has gained momentum over the past year, thanks in part to the acquisition of Ixaris, a London-based company that issues virtual payment cards for the travel industry. The deal was fortunately timed, says Nanu.
“We had the audacity to buy a travel payment company before vaccines even became a thing,” he said, adding that Nium had given Ixaris a term sheet as early as January 2021. The first Covid-19 vaccine was administered in the UK in December 2020.
When talks began, Ixaris was processing £15 million ($18.8 million) in trading volume and making £100,000 in revenue, Nanu said. Fast forward to March 2022 and the company now does £400m in volume and just under £6m in revenue, he added.