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Payments Briefing: Behind Adyen’s H2 2021 earnings

  • This week, we explore Adyen's H2 2021 earnings and how they relate to broader global payments trends.
  • We also look at Mastercard’s collaboration with Highnote and Flowcast to build a credit card for SMBs.

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Payments Briefing: Behind Adyen’s H2 2021 earnings

Dutch fintech Adyen, which acts as a payments processor for companies like Spotify, Uber, Facebook, McDonald’s, eBay, and L'Oréal, released its H2 2021 earnings last week. The firm reported a 51% rise in core earnings, exceeding analyst expectations and sending its shares up by more than 11%.

Adyen’s earnings report comes in stark contrast to that of PayPal, which reported mixed results in the fourth quarter and saw its stock drop 24% in its worst-ever trading day on account of weak earnings guidance.

In the second half of 2021, Adyen processed €300 billion for its merchants, up 72% year-on-year. Combined with the first half of the year, the total volume processed in 2021 surpassed the half-a-trillion mark at €516 billion, up 70% compared to €303 billion in 2020.

Net revenue was €556 million for H2 2021 – up 47% YoY, and €1 billion for the full year – up 46% YoY. The share of net revenue from regions outside of EMEA was over 40% for the first time in Adyen's history. North American net revenues grew by 74% in 2021.


The firm says that the regional diversification of its net revenues signifies its increasingly global focus. It further adds that its results were bolstered by the global rise of ecommerce, the progressive disappearance of cash, and the growing need for merchants to implement unified commerce shopper journeys.

At the same time, the firm said it saw in-store shopping make a major comeback, with a 97% year-on-year growth in POS volumes in H2 2021. These totaled nearly €42 billion and comprised 14% of total processed volumes, outpacing the growth of online volumes.

Adyen is also investing in two new tech hubs – located in Chicago and Madrid – to expand its geographical footprint and ramp up hiring on a global scale this year. The Amsterdam-based firm has a current market value of over $70 billion.

I spoke with Brian Dammeir, president – North America at Adyen, to get his thoughts on how the firm’s H2 earnings relate to broader global payments trends, as well as Adyen’s outlook for 2022 and beyond.

What Adyen's H2 earnings tell us about broader global payments trends

We saw strong numbers bolstered by accelerated digitization and decline of cash use on a global scale. In relation to the wider industry, we saw that contributions of travel are higher than pre-pandemic levels, even while the industry itself is not back to operating at full capacity. Our POS volume grew dramatically, signaling the continued growth of in-person shopping experiences. Ecommerce volume also grew 69% YoY – stronger than any other year.

Initially when the pandemic hit, businesses whose existence was threatened were quickest to adapt and our focus was on helping them weather the storm. This was most true for businesses in retail and food and beverage. We saw delivery, contactless and online commerce, and curbside pickup spring up at scale across this group of merchants.

Now, as we exit the reaction phase of COVID, we’re seeing a second wave of innovation as merchants across other verticals – hospitality, large-format retail, leisure – are increasingly aware of the impact of consumer preference shifts. This has sparked a profound digital transformation across these industries as well as those first impacted by COVID. The mandate from boardrooms is clear – and we now see our customers structurally changing their businesses and technology stacks to embrace unified commerce and this newfound urgency for digital transformation. This shift was already happening, but has been accelerated drastically due to COVID. We're meeting the moment for these customers as financial technology is a core piece of any transformation strategy fit for this age. Our newly acquired federal branch license should help us to fully meet these merchants’ needs.

The firm’s outlook for 2022 and beyond

We don’t break down our numbers by country, but North America accounted for 24% of net revenue in H2 2021, growing 74% YoY. During the pandemic, delivery, contactless commerce, and curbside pickup dominated F&B and retail. In 2022, we’ll see that more industries will follow as shopper preferences changed profoundly and won’t turn back.

It’s also worth touching on the increasing universality of SaaS platforms. These platforms tend to focus on a particular vertical, providing turnkey solutions and allowing smaller business owners to stay at the forefront of innovation. As transformation continues in the coming years, we expect many more of these players to come into the market and have Adyen be their solution of choice. The end result is that we’re powering transformation across all size segments – from enterprise directly to the smallest sellers via platforms.

Mastercard teams up with Highnote and Flowcast to help SMBs build credit

Mastercard is working with two San Francisco-based fintechs, Highnote and Flowcast, to develop a credit card geared towards owners of small businesses who struggle to access credit and growth capital.

Highnote, which was founded in 2020 and has raised about $54 million in capital, will handle card issuance and program management, and will also support embedded banking and payment services.

Flowcast is backed by ING Ventures and Bitrock Capital, and uses artificial intelligence to develop its credit risk models. The firm refers to the new product as the Tillful Card. 

With Tillful, cardholders’ payment history is reported to credit bureaus to enable businesses to build credit. The card provides the option for monthly payments compared to fixed daily or weekly payments, and doesn’t require a minimum bank balance for approval.

The card also includes a rewards program tailored for small business owners, who can create virtual cards for their employees. Cardholders can immediately start making business purchases online, in-app and at the point of sale using their virtual card.

The Tillful Card will be available early this year, according to Highnote’s co-founder and CEO, John Macllwaine, who was the former general manager of PayPal’s Braintree. He says small business borrowers who are credit-invisible tend to be overlooked for financing opportunities because of challenges in underwriting and the lack of credit history for these businesses.

The new offering comes as fintechs use partnerships to establish themselves and challenge existing players in the business credit segment. Macllwaine says the Tillful Card will differentiate itself from fintechs like Brex and Ramp through its unique combination of services.

“Our direct integration into the card networks will give Tillful and its customers greater flexibility and control in their spend management. With our general ledger, Tillful Card customers will get real-time data on transactions and spending across their business operations,” said Macllwaine. “Our rewards and points ledger open up possibilities to create flexible and customized reward offerings relevant to the small business community.”

Highlights from our recent coverage

“Life is too short to not take a leap to do something that you love”: A day in the life of Dang Saengchanpheng, director of fintech development at VizyPay

Dang Saengchanpheng is the director of fintech development and data analytics at VizyPay. After leaving the corporate world to help develop a startup, Dang now feels empowered to lead and create, and is excited to come into work every day.

‘Less talk, more Bitcoin’: Coinbase’s Super Bowl ad crashes app

Coinbase ran a full 60-second slot offering free Bitcoin during Super Bowl 56. The ad was so successful that it brought the crypto firm’s app down.

Fraud is becoming the biggest headache in financial services

As the world moves deeper into digital, so too do fraudsters and their attempts to scam financial services. Firms like SentiLink and Alloy are keeping apace, with technology and methodology to combat the bad actors.

What we’re reading

  • Stripe invests in payroll startup Check (Finextra)
  • Marqeta teams up with Plaid to simplify ACH transfers (Finovate)
  • FIS acquires Payrix to boost embedded payments strategy (PYMNTS)
  • Klarna reveals that most consumers don’t know how much interest they’re charged when using credit cards (Crowdfund Insider)
  • Affirm shares plummet 21% after company releases financial results early (CNBC)
  • Messenger’s ‘Split Payments’ feature is rolling out to all users in the US (TechCrunch)

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