As payments companies continue to look to the long tail of global markets to expand their businesses, a startup that helps them do business in disparate economies is getting a strategic investment from one of payment world leaders.
PayPal is leading a $50 million investment into PPRO, a London-based business that is focused on cross-border payments for merchants, specifically by offering the merchants a seamless way of accepting payments from customers using whatever the most popular payment form happens to be in a particular country. To date, the PPRO platform covers some 140 payment methods, and the plan will be to add more countries, and more payments, into the mix.
The deal comes at the tail end of a wave of acquisitions from PayPal as it looks for new ways of expanding its business as growth tails off in its more established markets and established business lines. Between mid-May and now, it has acquired iZettle for $2.2 billion to expand its mobile point-of-sale opportunities; AI-based CRM specialist Jetlore; AI-based fraud and risk management firm Simility for $120 million; and gig economy payment facilitator Hyperwallet for $400 million.
This PPRO investment also includes participation from new investor Citi Ventures and previous backer HPE Growth Capital. PPRO is not disclosing its valuation but Simon Black, its CEO, said in an interview that it’s definitely up on its previous funding and described it as a “minority investment” in the company.
Interestingly, PPRO has raised only around $10.6 million since its founding in 2006; it is already profitable; it has around 200 employees; and it competes with the likes of Adyen, which recently went public at a valuation of over $8 billion — to give you an idea of the opportunity and value of the company.
The challenge PPRO — pronounced “pea-pro” — is addressing is an interesting and complicated one. While the growth in e-commerce has been a global phenomenon, like a plant, it has grown differently and adapted to each market depending on local conditions. In the case of payments, that has meant a disparate range of payment methods that are standard in some countries, but not others.
While credit cards or debit cards, for example, are very standard in the US and UK, in Japan, a lot of people pay for items purchased online by cash on delivery, or at convenience stores. In the Netherlands, there is a system called iDEAL that routes payments directly through your bank account. And so on.
For a merchant that is based in one country but interested in selling to people in another, this can pose a problem, if it doesn’t accept whatever the local payment method happens to be.
That’s where a company like PPRO comes in. It essentially creates an interface for the merchant to be able to select acceptance using a variety of methods, with the idea being that PPRO will provide access to whatever happens to be the most common methods in a particular geography. It’s a kind of service that would be too timely, and not the core competency, for a merchant to resolve by itself, and if anything continues to become more complex as e-commerce continues to become more ubiquitous.
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