Why Visa Paid $5.3 Billion for Fintech Firm Plaid

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In December of 2018, privately held fintech firm Plaid raised $250 million in a sixth round of venture funding. Following the infusion of new cash, the company was reportedly valued at around $2.65 billion. On Monday, Visa Inc. (NYSE: V) paid exactly double that amount to acquire Plaid.

According to the announcement, Visa will fund the purchase out of cash on hand and new debt “at the appropriate time.” The transaction will not affect the company’s dividend policy nor its scheduled stock buyback program. The transaction is expected to close in three to six months.

Visa is a little late to the game but this is a big move for the credit card giant. Rival Mastercard Inc. (NYSE: MA) has spent about $3.3 billion on fintech acquisitions. The largest, announced last August, was a $3.2 billion acquisition of Denmark-based Nets, an account-to-account clearing, payment and electronic billing business.

Plaid provides the plumbing for Venmo, the fintech app from PayPal Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: PYPL) that ties fintech apps like Venmo to the banks where people keep their money. This saves a fintech firm from having to develop the connection on its own and from spending a small fortune on software engineers and developers. Plaid’s application programming interface provides the platform on which a consumer can link an app to a bank.

One in four people with a U.S. bank account have used Plaid to connect to more than 2,600 fintech developers across more than 11,000 financial institutions, according to Visa’s announcement, and about three-quarters of the world’s population used a fintech app last year to transfer funds. In 2015 only 18% of people had used a fintech app.

Zach Perret, CEO and co-founder of Plaid, commented:

Visa is trusted by billions of consumers, businesses and financial institutions as a key part of the financial ecosystem, and together Visa and Plaid can support the rapid growth of digital financial services.

Visa CEO Al Kelly added:

The combination of Visa and Plaid will put us at the epicenter of the fintech world, expanding our total addressable market and accelerating our long-term revenue growth trajectory.

PayPal CEO Dan Schulman gave his blessing to the deal as well:

We have strong relationships with both Visa and Plaid. The combination of Plaid’s capabilities with the security and scale of Visa’s global network will provide us with exciting opportunities to enhance our products

That Visa had to spend $5.3 billion to get Plaid is a reasonable price for a company with a $495 billion market cap. Having waited this long to get into the fintech game, Visa needed a big deal and this is it.

Visa’s shares traded up about 0.7% in Tuesday’s premarket at $196.53, above the 52-week range of $133.30 to $195.60. The consensus 12-month price target on the stock is $210.21.


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