Friday , July 30, 2021

Visa Agrees to Lay out Nearly $1 Billion to Acquire Britain’s Cross-Border Specialist Currencycloud

Visa Inc. has been concentrating on building out its “network-of-networks” strategy for some time, and it’s latest move in that project came early Thursday with the news that it has agreed to acquire Currency Cloud Ltd., a London-based developer of application programming interfaces that can simplify cross-border payments.

The deal values the 9-year-old company, known less formally as Currencycloud, at £700 million, or about $964 million. The valuation reflects the significant rise in importance such companies have taken on in global commerce over the past year or so. Visa participated in an $80-million funding round for Currencycloud a year and a half ago that valued the company at about $500 million, according to sources cited by the online technology news source TechCrunch.

Both Visa and Mastercard Inc. have coveted a prominent place in cross-border transactions for some time. In 2019, for example, Visa outbid its rival to acquire Britain’s Earthport plc, a specialist in international transfers, for $320 million.

Now, with Currencycloud, the big card-based payments network will control a key provider of technology underpinning this fast-growing transaction market. Indeed, in its Thursday announcement, Visa cites estimates from Mercator Advisory Group indicating some 43% of all small businesses already engaged in cross-border trade last year. 

Visa says it figures its control of the company will help increase that number further by widening the availability of the APIs that can simplify cross-border transactions. It will also add to the card giant’s strategy to move into adjacent markets and services for non-card digital payments that can serve both existing and new clients.

“Consumers and businesses increasingly expect transparency, speed, and simplicity when making or receiving international payments. With our acquisition of Currencycloud, we can support our clients and partners to further reduce the pain points of cross-border payments and develop great user experiences for their customers,” said Colleen Ostrowski, global treasurer at Visa, in a statement.

For its part, Currencycloud sees Visa’s global network widening the firm’s scope significantly. “The combination of Currencycloud’s fintech expertise and Visa’s network will enable us to deliver greater customer value to the businesses moving money across borders,” Mike Laven, the company’s chief executive, said in a statement.

Among the benefits Currencycloud’s technology will bring, Visa says, are increased foreign-exchange capabilities and faster uptime and clearer payments visibility for clients.

Currencycloud will remain in London and its current managers will stay in place, the companies said. The deal remains subject to regulatory approvals and “customary closing conditions,” Visa said.

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