A London-based online payments company has become Britain’s most valuable private fintech business after its latest fundraising valued it at $40bn (£29bn), handing its surf-loving founder a paper fortune of about $20bn.
Checkout.com, which simplifies payment processes for businesses, achieved the valuation after a $1bn investment that puts the stake of its 40-year-old chief executive, Guillaume Pousaz, at about $20bn.
Pousaz, a Swiss national, dropped out of university in 2005 when his father became ill with cancer and he then moved to California to pursue his love of surfing. It was only after running out of cash that he took up a job with International Payment Consultants, a payments processing firm, in 2006.
“I didn’t choose payments – payments chose me,” Pousaz told the Sunday Times in 2020. “I only took that job so I could go surfing.” A year after joining IPC, Pousaz left to launch his first startup. He founded Checkout.com in 2012.
Fintech, a catch-all term for financial services firms operating in the digital sphere, has become a key driver of the UK’s success as a tech investment hub, featuring companies such as Revolut and Wise.
Venture capitalists, who invest in new companies by taking stakes in them, invested a record £29.4bn in the UK tech sector last year. The number of unicorns – startup firms worth more than $1bn (£750m) – reached a high of 29 in 2021 including Depop, the British secondhand fashion resale app sold to US online marketplace Etsy for $1.6bn this year, and the car-selling platform Motorway.
Checkout.com, which is now worth more than the British fintech peer Revolut, valued at $33bn, said it would use the funding to launch products and further its involvement in the Web3 space. Web3 is the term used for the next chapter in digital innovation (after Web 2.0 was coined for social media companies) and centres on technological breakthroughs such as blockchain; a digital, decentralised ledger that underpins the cryptocurrency market.
Investors in the latest Checkout.com funding round include US investment firms and the Qatar Investment Authority, the Arab state’s sovereign wealth fund. Checkout.com processes payments for clients including Netflix, cryptocurrency trading platform Coinbase and Pizza Hut.
The fundraising comes a year after the London-based company’s previous round of investment, in which it raised $450m and achieved a valuation of $15bn.
Change in how consumers use financial services and a pandemic-driven rise in use of digital services has drawn investor interest in fintechs, prompting global investors to ramp up bets on the sector.