Klarna wannabes startups

SeQura secured a debt facility of up to €50M in the first phase and with the possibility to scale it up to €200M.

SeQura does payment solutions for the ecommerce biz and has an interesting story - it was founded in 2013-2014 by Swedes living in Spain with the objective of cloning Klarna and later flipping the business to it. They were not on their own as they also had VC backing from another Swedish living in Spain (Optimizer Invest).

In total, the company raised about €6 million from Optimizer and Grupo Intercom, which control about 25% of the equity.

Long story short, they put together a nice business serving about 2500 stores, growing double digits yoy and bringing in about $20 million per year, mostly from Spain. 

Klarna actually wanted to acquire them last year - the founders were ready to sell but the VC wanted way more than a $100 million valuation, which is more money than Klarna thought it was worth and the deal fell off. 

And so now they took debt for building more business on their own - but instead of expanding in Europe, they intend to go to other Spanish speaking countries such as Mexico and Colombia. 

Also notable: there’s another little startup, also based in Spain (Alicante) and also developed by Nordic people, Danes this time, and which wants to compete with Klarna by charging half of their commissions. They’re not on their own but together with Clearhaus, which invested in them. The target markets: Spain and Norway.

Clearhaus is a medium-sized Danish payment processor and has 20k merchants as customers. For context, Klarna has about 10x as many. Btw, Klarna is not active in Spain.

It is a fascinating emerging space, still in very early innings and very-very fragmented in Europe, all players solving similar problems but in discrete parts of the value chain and going from different directions. And, of course, chasing market share and growing the pie. Until a player like Apple or Square comes and changes the rules of the game by providing a credit card, POS software to merchants etc - Apple still not active in Europe btw, Clearhaus implemented Apple Pay for them in the Nordics. 

Other notable plays from the big guys - Paypal bought iZettle in Sweden 2 years ago, Square just bought Verse in the Spanish consumer payments market, Lydia just raised $45 mil in France from Tencent, Alipay is quite active in Europe, etc. and I am sure I am missing a whole lot of others.

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