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Payments startup Mollie now third-biggest fintech in Europe


Dutch fintech start-up Mollie’s payments platform in action.

Mollie

LONDON — Mollie was a relatively little-known company before Covid-19. Now, it’s one of Europe’s biggest fintechs.

The Amsterdam-based online payments processor finally became a “unicorn” valued at more than $1 billion in September, more than a decade after it was founded by Dutch entrepreneur Adriaan Mol in 2004.

On Tuesday, Mollie announced it had raised $800 million in a mega financing round valuing the company at $6.5 billion. That makes it the third-largest fintech unicorn in Europe after rival firm Checkout.com, according to CB Insights data.

Mollie’s founder said the company originally got its start as a text messaging business, but soon pivoted to payments after trying to integrate its own system for clients to pay their invoices.

“I was amazed at how badly that was built by the traditional banks,” Mol told CNBC last year. “We created this abstraction layer to the complex systems of the banks. That was the start of our payment business.”

Shane Happach, who recently took over from Mol as CEO, said the company opted to grow organically for several years before taking external funding for the first time in 2019. A year later, Mollie raised $100 million in a round led by growth-stage tech investor TCV.

After that deal, Mollie was soon flooded with offers from investors, Happach said.

“We’re trying to build a $100 billion company,” he told CNBC. “We know that takes a long time. It’s capital-intensive.”

Mollie’s latest investment round, a Series C, was led by Blackstone’s growth equity investing unit. EQT, General Atlantic, HMI Capital and Alkeon Capital also invested.

Fierce competition

Competition in payments has intensified over the past decade, with fintech players like Stripe, Jack Dorsey’s Square and Netherlands-based Adyen all vying for a bigger share of the $2 trillion market.

Unlike its American rivals, Mollie says it mainly focuses on transactions with small businesses in Europe.

“A lot of the bigger players in online payments come out of the U.S., like PayPal,” Happach said. “Even Visa and Mastercard are U.S. companies.”

“A lot of investors don’t have a bet on Europe,” he added. “Mollie’s one of those unique assets that offers exposure.”

Stripe, which was last privately valued at $95 billion, raised hundreds of millions of dollars earlier this year to expand further in Europe. The company is dual-headquartered in San Francisco and Dublin.

Mol said his firm’s service is more “localized” than Stripe’s and not targeted at enterprise clients, unlike Adyen and Checkout.com. Onboarding smaller merchants requires “complex” compliance checks which some competitors don’t want to focus on, he added.

A big bet on European tech



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