Visa Makes Fintech Move With $5.3B Plaid Buy

The deal gives Visa access to software that fintech app developers use to interface with customers' bank accounts.
Matthew HellerJanuary 14, 2020

Visa has agreed to acquire fintech startup Plaid for $5.3 billion in a move to accelerate its push into connecting consumers to financial services.

Plaid provides API software that enables customers including peer-to-peer payment app Venmo, mobile investing app Robinhood, and cryptocurrency exchanges Coinbase and Gemini to interface with customers’ bank accounts.

Visa CEO Al Kelly said Plaid has seen a compound annual growth rate of roughly 100% since 2015 and the acquisition was a “long-term” play that would position Visa for the next decade.

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“This acquisition is the natural evolution of Visa’s 60-year journey from safely and securely connecting buyers and sellers to connecting consumers with digital financial services,” he said in a news release. “The combination of Visa and Plaid will put us at the epicenter of the fintech world, expanding our total addressable market and accelerating our long-term revenue growth trajectory.”

According to Visa, connectivity between financial institutions and app developers has become increasingly important, with 75% of internet-enabled consumers using a fintech app to transfer money in 2019 compared to 18% in 2015.

“Plaid has been a leader in enabling this connectivity at scale,” Visa noted. “Today, one in four people with a U.S. bank account have used Plaid to connect to more than 2,600 fintech developers across more than 11,000 financial institutions.”

San Francisco-based Plaid was founded in 2013 and valued at $2.7 billion in a 2018 Series C funding round that raised $250 million. According to Forbes, its 2019 revenue was between $100 million and $200 million.

Forbes said Visa, with its market value of $420 billion and $20 billion in revenue last year, wasn’t buying Plaid for its revenue potential but to get access to “an important, ballooning base of customers that it can sell additional services to.”

Plaid co-founder Zach Perret will stay on as CEO after the sale to Visa closes. “Our go-to market is finding people who are creating innovation inside of enterprises,” he said.