Visa to buy Swedish fintech Tink for $2.2 billion


FILE PHOTO: A Visa credit card is seen on a computer keyboard in this picture illustration taken September 6, 2017. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer/Illustration//File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) -Visa Inc said on Thursday it had agreed a 1.8 billion euro ($2.2 billion) takeover of European open banking platform Tink, months after it ditched a planned acquisition of the startup's U.S. rival Plaid.

Founded in 2012, Sweden-based Tink enables banks and other financial firms to share and access consumer financial data more easily. It is used by more than 3,400 banks and other institutions, as well as over 250 million customers in Europe.

Visa terminated a planned $5.3 billion deal with U.S. data-sharing platform Plaid in January, following a U.S. government lawsuit aimed at blocking the deal on antitrust grounds.

European Union rules on open banking require banks to allow access to customer data by registered third party providers to boost competition.

The rollout of the rules has provided fertile ground for fintechs, such as Tink, which provide technology to help third parties and banks to access customer data.

Some financial technology experts said the Tink acquisition could face antitrust concerns, similar to the failed Plaid deal.

"Europe is a very different open banking market to the USA," said Simon Taylor, head of ventures and co-founder at fintech consultancy 11:FS. "But Tink is one of the largest players, and many of the concerns that led to the investigation into the Plaid-Visa deal may apply here."

The deal is part of Visa's push to diversify revenues beyond credit card payments, where it is one of the world's dominant players. Card companies have been facing increased pressure from regulators on fees, especially in Europe.

If completed, the transaction could mark another success for Sweden's financial technology startup sector which has created several large companies over the past few years.

Buy now pay later company Klarna was valued at $46 billion in its latest fundraising round earlier this month, while Payments startup iZettle was acquired by PayPal Holdings Inc for $2.2 billion in 2018.

"With Tink and iZettle, Sweden has now produced two of Europe's largest ever fintech M&A exits," said Josh Bell, general partner at Dawn Capital, a venture capital firm who backed both firms.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Iain Withers and Anna Irrera in London; Additional reporting by Anna Ringstrom in Stockholm. Editing by Edmund Blair and Barbara Lewis)

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