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Mercuryo raises $7.5M for crypto-focused, cross-border payments after crossing $50M in ARR

By Mary Ann Azevedo

Mercuryo, a startup that has built a cross-border payments network, has raised $7.5 million in a Series A round of funding.

The London-based company describes itself as “a crypto infrastructure company” that aims to make blockchain useful for businesses via its “digital asset payment gateway.” Specifically, it aggregates various payment solutions and provides fiat and crypto payments and payouts for businesses. 

Put more simply, Mercuryo aims to use cryptocurrencies as a tool for putting in motion next-gen, cross-border transfers or, as it puts it, “to allow any business to become a fintech company without the need to keep up with its complications.”

“The need for fast and efficient international payments, especially for businesses, is as relevant as ever,” said Petr Kozyakov, Mercuryo’s co-founder and CEO. While there is no shortage of companies enabling cross-border payments, the startup’s emphasis on crypto is a differentiator.

“Our team has a clear plan on making crypto universally available by enabling cheap and straightforward transactions,” Kozyakov said. “Cryptocurrency assets can then be used to process global money transfers, mass payouts and facilitate acquiring services, among other things.” 

Image Credits: Left to right: Alexander Vasiliev, Greg Waisman, Petr Kozyakov / MercuryO

Mercuryo began onboarding customers at the beginning of 2019, and has seen impressive growth since with annual recurring revenue (ARR) in April surpassing over $50 million. Its customer base is approaching 1 million, and the company has partnerships with a number of large crypto players including Binance, Bitfinex, Trezor, Trust Wallet, Bithumb and Bybit. In 2020, the company said its turnover spiked by 50 times while run-rate turnover crossed $2.5 billion in April 2021.

To build on that momentum, Mercuryo has begun expanding to new markets, including the United States, where it launched its crypto payments offering for B2B customers in all states earlier this year. It also plans to “gradually” expand to Africa, South America and Southeast Asia.

Target Global led Mercuryo’s Series A, which also included participation from a group of angel investors and brings the startup’s total raised since its 2018 inception to over $10 million.

The company plans to use its new capital to launch a cryptocurrency debit card (spending globally directly from the crypto balance in the wallet) and continuing to expand to new markets, such as Latin America and Asia-Pacific.

Mercuryo’s various products include a multicurrency wallet with a built-in crypto exchange and digital asset purchasing functionality, a widget and high-volume cryptocurrency acquiring and OTC services.

Kozyakov says the company doesn’t charge for currency conversion and has no other “hidden fees.”

“We enable instant and easy cross-border transactions for our partners and their customers,” he said. “Also, the money transfer services lack intermediaries and require no additional steps to finalize transactions. Instead, the process narrows down to only two operations: a fiat-to-crypto exchange when sending a transfer and a crypto-to-fiat conversion when receiving funds.”

Mercuryo also offers crypto SaaS products, giving customers a way to buy crypto via their fiat accounts while delegating digital asset management to the company. 

“Whether it be virtual accounts or third-party customer wallets, the company handles most cryptocurrency-related processes for banks, so they can focus more on their core operations,” Kozyakov said.

Mike Lobanov, Target Global’s co-founder, said that as an experiment, his firm tested numerous solutions to buy Bitcoin.

“Doing our diligence, we measured ‘time to crypto’ – how long it takes from going to the App Store and downloading the app until the digital assets arrive in the wallet,” he said.

Mercuryo came first with 6 minutes, including everything from KYC and funding to getting the cryptocurrency, according to Lobanov.

“The second-best result was 20 minutes, while some apps took forever to process our transaction,” he added. “This company is a game-changer in the field, and we are delighted to have been their supporters since the early days.”

Looking ahead, the startup plans to release a product that will give businesses a way to send instant mass payments to multiple customers and gig workers simultaneously, no matter where the receiver is located.

 

Visa takes a swipe in fintech, builds new online marketplace

By Mary Ann Azevedo

The relationships between banks and fintechs are multi-faceted.

In some cases, they partner. In many cases, they compete. In other cases, one acquires or invests in the other.

Well, today, an announcement by global payments giant Visa is aimed at helping facilitate banks and fintechs’ ability to work together.

Specifically, Visa said today it has expanded its Visa Fintech Partner Connect, a program designed to help financial institutions quickly connect with a “vetted and curated” set of technology providers. 

I talked with Terry Angelos, senior vice president and global head of fintech at Visa, to understand just exactly what that means.

“Global fintech investment last year was $105 billion,” Angelos said. “There were about 2,861 deals in venture, PE and M&A. So literally over $100 billion is going into fintech, which is more than the combined tech budgets of every bank in the U.S. As a result, a lot of innovation that is occurring in fintech is funded by venture dollars. We’re trying to bring that innovation to our clients, whether they are banks, processors or other fintechs.”

The program initially launched in Europe in November of 2020, and now is available in the U.S., Asia Pacific, Latin American and CEMEA (Central Europe, Middle East and Africa). Visa has worked to identify fintechs that can help banks and financial institutions (that are clients of Visa’s) as well as other fintechs “create digital-first experiences, without the cost and complexity of building the back-end technology in-house.

Local teams will run programs in the respective regions, and vet and manage partners in the following categories: account opening, data aggregation, analytics and security, customer engagement and new cardholder services and operations and compliance.

So far, Visa has identified about 60 partners that offer a range of technologies — from back-office functions to new front-end services, according to Angelos. Those partners include Alloy, Jumio, Argyle, Fidel, FirstSource, TravelBank, Canopy, Hummingbird and Unit21, among others. Twenty-four are located in the U.S.

“So much of fintech focus and coverage is about disrupting existing banks. Everyone is trying to disrupt everyone, including fintechs like PayPal,” Angelos told TechCrunch. “Venture numbers are certainly very large. What we’re realizing is there is a significant opportunity to pair up a lot of venture-backed companies with our existing clients. It runs a little bit against us versus them approach you typically hear about.”

Visa clients can get in touch with program partners via the Visa Partner website and get benefits such as reduced implementation fees and pricing discounts. 

“The Fintech Connect program is about both helping to identify and curate interesting fintech companies and then create a favorable commercial partnership for our clients so they can engage with these Fintech Connect partners,” Angelos said.

So, what does Visa gain from all this?

“Our goal is that all of our clients are in a position to build better digital experiences for their consumers,” he told TechCrunch. “We would love it if every bank had the latest tools in order to onboard clients and build digital experiences.”

One of its partners, for example, is virtual card startup Extend. 

“There are fintechs that provide this today such as TripActions, Ramp and Divvy,” Angelos points out. “But what Visa is doing is looking at ‘How can we enable our banking clients to do something similar?’ So we’re bringing innovation into our ecosystem so that anyone can take advantage.”

It can also help companies such as TripActions, Ramp or Divvy with other complementary technologies for security posture, for example.

“The net beneficiary is to hopefully move more spending onto those rails,” Angelos said. “For example, if you look at B2B spend, there’s about $120 trillion of it annually. We believe about $20 trillion of that is card eligible. Today, Visa captures about $1 trillion of that. So, another $19 trillion is available for Visa to capture through our partners if our banks and fintechs can build these kinds of solutions to enable B2B payments.”

To be clear, Visa also invests in startups from time to time. But this initiative is distinct from those efforts, although a couple of its partners have been recipients of funding from Visa.

Gojek and Tokopedia merge to form GoTo Group

By Manish Singh

Ride-hailing giant Gojek and marketplace Tokopedia said on Monday they have combined their businesses to form GoTo Group, the largest technology group in Indonesia, the fourth most populous nation that is currently navigating to contain the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

Gojek’s Andre Soelistyo will lead the combined business as GoTo Group CEO, with Tokopedia’s Patrick Cao serving as GoTo Group President. Kevin Aluwi will continue as CEO of Gojek and William Tanuwijaya will remain CEO of Tokopedia, the two firms said in a joint announcement.

The combined entity is “a globally unique and highly complementary ecosystem,” the two firms said, claiming that GoTo features:

  • Total Group Gross Transaction Value (GTV) of over $22 billion in 2020
  • Over 1.8 billion transactions in 2020
  • Total registered driver fleet of over two million as of December 2020
  • Over 11 million merchant partners as of December 2020
  • Over 100 million monthly active users (MAU)
  • An ecosystem that encompasses 2% of Indonesia’s GDP

The deal, which has been in the works for several months, comes after Gojek spent several quarters exploring a merger with its chief Southeast Asian rival Grab. Tokopedia meanwhile was in talks late last year to pursue a public listing this year. Gojek and Tokopedia last month moved to seek approval from their respective investors. During their talks, the proposed valuation of GoTo was $18 billion.

The companies, which have together raised about $8.2 billion (according to research firm Tracxn) didn’t comment on the final valuation today nor did they disclose any other financial terms of the deal.

The friendship of founders of Gojek and Tokopedia — two of the largest startups in Indonesia — may have helped secure this deal. The two companies first began working together in 2015 to accelerate e-commerce deliveries using Gojek’s local network of drivers.

“The companies will continue to thrive and coexist as stand-alone brands within the strengthened ecosystem,” they said on Monday.

In the meantime, Grab has since announced plans to go public in the U.S. via SPAC, and is seeking a valuation of $39.6 billion, which if materializes at the current terms, would be the biggest-ever deal of its kind. GoTo plans to go public as soon as this year via listings in New York and Jakarta, according to media reports.

“Today is a truly historic day as we mark the beginning of GoTo and the next phase of growth for Gojek, Tokopedia and GoTo Financial. Gojek drivers will deliver even more Tokopedia packages, merchant partners of all sizes will benefit from strengthened business solutions and we will use our combined scale to increase financial inclusion in an emerging region with untapped growth potential. For the consumer, GoTo Group will continue to reduce frictions and provide best in class delivery of goods and services. This is the next step of an exciting journey and I am humbled and proud to lead the GoTo movement,” said Andre Soelistyo, CEO of GoTo Group, in a statement.

A historic day for Indonesian Internet: the union of its two largest Internet companies @gojekindonesia @tokopedia

We got insanely lucky to partner w both for 6+ yrs
Priceless war stories & scars @Sequoia_India 🙏🙏🙏

Inspired, filled w gratitude, excited about future #GoTo

— Shailendra J Singh (@singh_sequoia) May 17, 2021

Existing investors — including Alibaba Group, Astra International, BlackRock, Capital Group, DST, Facebook, Google, JD.com, KKR, Northstar, Pacific Century Group, PayPal, Provident, Sequoia Capital India, SoftBank Vision Fund 1, Telkomsel, Temasek, Tencent, Visa and Warburg Pincus — backed the merger, the two firms said.

Tokopedia’s Co-founder and CEO William Tanuwijaya said, “The establishment of GoTo Group proves that you can believe in an ‘Indonesian dream’ and make it a reality. Our goal has always been to build a company that creates social impact at scale, levelling the playing field for small businesses and giving consumers equal access to goods and services across the country. In addition to accelerating the growth of Indonesia’s digital economy, GoTo Group will make it easier for people from all walks of life to access quality products and services, anytime and anywhere. We still have a long way to go to achieve our goals, but today is about starting that journey together.”

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