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This week - Airwallex, Apple, Checkout.com, Cielo, Facebook, Monzo, N26, Revolut, Terrapay, Visa, WhatsApp, Wirecard
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New data, new insights on cross-border payments. Every week.
 
Our newsletter is proudly independent and read by thousands of the leading organisations in cross-border payments around the globe. Feel free to share it. 
This week, we look at how payment companies have been pricing during the pandemic. For many companies, this is their first global recession and they have little data and experience to fall back on.

Off the back of Checkout.com's successful funding round, we update you on the larger fundings of 2020. We see a clear mix of offensive (growth) and defensive (survival) investing.

Finally, we cover WhatsApp Pay, who had to shut down this week just 10 days after launching in Brazil. That story is just beginning.

How to price in a constant state of crisis

Since the US instituted their travel ban in March, we've seen significant movement in pricing for cross-border payments across the globe (including in the credit card market).

Throughout March and April, some providers lowered prices (attempting to benefit from the significant surge in digital transfers), while others substantially increased their margins, either to make up for lost volume or to monetise the boost in digital customers. Pricing has since converged in May, as providers seem to have coalesced around a new normal.

Below are the prices we saw during this period for two major US remittance providers.
 

We've been tracking how both the banks and payment companies behaved before and during the pandemic. Which companies changed their pricing strategies and why? Which corridors saw the most movement? How has it differed by customer type?

If there is a second wave, what strategies would be most effective for your company? Reach out to us to look at this in much more detail.
Get access to the best pricing data in the industry

Raising money in a downturn

This week, the global payment processor Checkout.com announced it closed a $150m funding round, tripling the company's valuation to $5.5bn. Not all recent funding rounds were as successful, though, with Monzo raising less than expected and being hit by a severe 40% reduction in its valuation (from $2.5bn to $1.5bn).

What can we take from this?
Our main takeaways:
  1. Has the cream risen to the top? 
    Companies with more stable and diversified revenue streams have held up their valuations much better. Case in point - Monzo. A thin revenue stream based on interchange fees and driven by travel revenue has not held up. At the same time, Checkout.com has benefitted from the shift to digital and e-commerce brought along by the crisis and has become one of the most valuable fintechs in Europe.
     
  2. The importance of a differentiated product
    A commodity product offering is not enough. Starling is hanging in there by providing a more complete offer to its SMEs clients compared to other digital banking players in the business segment. Checkout.com is focusing on providing access to local payment systems (as are others such as PPRO) and networks to make international payments easier and faster. 
     
  3. Geographic expansion convincing investors
    N26 raised funds to adapt its product to the US market and to expand in Brazil (good luck vs. NuBank). Monzo is applying for a US banking license (good luck vs. 5,100+ banks) and Airwallex is pushing outside of China (well, just good luck). If nothing else, another market provides a growth story for investors. Executing that is something else. 
Investors now have the tough choice of funding market share growth or focusing on the sustainability of their investments. Better to make this choice before it is forced upon you.
Who will emerge strongest from the crisis

Will big tech be stopped in payments

Facebook must have thought its Libra digital currency project was enough for regulators to take on for now. Nope. On June 15th, WhatsApp Pay (a domestic P2P offering) launched in Brazil, Facebook's second biggest market with 120 million users. 10 days later it was suspended by the Brazilian Central bank to "preserve an adequate competitive environment".

The Central Bank's move was far reaching. It has prohibited Mastercard and Visa from carrying out payments and transfers to the app, making it impossible for the system to work. Cade, Brazil's antitrust authority additionally suspended WhatsApp’s partnership with payment processor Cielo, another market leader.

Does this move give an indication of changing regulatory winds? Payments is a massive opportunity for big tech (our analysis here) but there have yet to be any major breakthroughs. Apple's deal with Goldman Sachs is perhaps the most developed but credit cards is a very competitive market. 

Facebook (and others) have been focusing on big emerging economies with less developed payment systems and large proportions of under-banked population. WhatsApp Pay has been trialing in India since 2018 and in Mexico too. But Facebook decided to launch in Brazil first as the Reserve Bank of India hasn't provided the regulatory approval for a country-wide roll out yet. Expect that decisions to be even more scrutinised now. And the logical extension to all these domestic P2P offerings - entering the cross-border space - will seem far off for now.
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On our radar this week:
Curated by FXC Intelligence's Team
Wirecard files for bankruptcy
After admitting EUR2.1bn is missing, criminal probes and investigations are likely just beginning.
CNN
Mastercard Open-Banking push
Mastercard to expand open-banking capabilities buying real-time financial data aggregation service Finicity for $825m.
Finextra
Curve to power Samsung Card
The card aggregator has been chosen to power Samsung's new UK card, aiming to compete in the burgeoning wallet market.
Techcrunch 
Visa keeps investing
TerraPay becomes the latest fintech to join Visa's fast track program to push more into mobile wallets and e-payments.
Zacks

Missed the last few weeks?

Digital banks' offering for businesses (here)
Western Union's pricing premium (here)
Which companies will emerge strongest from the pandemic (here)
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Stay healthy and stay safe,

Daniel
Copyright © 2020 FXC Intelligence Ltd, All rights reserved.

London New York | Washington DC

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