Payments remain a very fragmented activity around the world: depending on where you are buying or selling something (and whether you are selling online or offline) you will have different “standard” payment methods, currencies and settlement schemes and more. Today, a startup called Kevin is taking a piece of that puzzle – payments made from one account to another, an alternative to payment card payments that bypasses those tracks – and making it easier and more ubiquitous to use by developing a completely new series of payments infrastructure that integrates directly with banks, announces a significant $ 65 million A series to double its business after a strong initial pull.
It has already gathered 6,000 merchants in 12 European markets, starting first with the electronic point of sale, and more recently with integration with physical POS terminals. His plan is expected to be available as a payment option in around 35% of European electronic point-of-sale terminals by the end of this year, and then in 85% the following year, “like any card scheme,” he said. said CEO Tadas Tamosiunas in an interview.
The UK will be by the end of the year, but by the end of this year it will be 35% of European EPOS terminals and then 85% next year as the card scheme.
The round is led by Accel, with the participation also of Eurazeo and previous supporters OTB Ventures, Speedinvest, OpenOcean and Global Paytech Ventures. Harry Stebbings of 20VC; Ilkka Paananen, CEO and co-founder of Supercell; and Amitabh Jhawar, former CEO of VenmoVilnius are some of the people who also invest in the round. Kevin has now raised $ 77 million and is not disclosing his valuation.
Kevin, based in Lithuania, was co-founded by Tamosiunas and Pavel Sokolovas (COO), who said in a joint interview that the plan will be to use the funds to continue building its technology and hire more people to enter more markets, starting first with coverage of all of Europe.
Kevin is technically called “kevin”. – including the point. Tamosiunas stated that the choice was made for a few reasons: first “Kevin” as an ordinary man’s name, the idea is that this is a technical payment solution that will be useful to everyone; according to the full stop to imply that it is the first and last name that you will need to know in the company; but third, as a conversation opening. “He gives us the opportunity to tell our story,” he said simply.
That story will be well known to merchants and others who work in payments and commerce – each country has different payment systems in both the front-end and the back-end of the process. Account-to-account payments, which essentially debit money directly from the buyer and deposit it into the seller’s account, have long been one of those options and often represent a much cheaper and direct alternative to card payments and commissions from they incurred when someone is not already using cash.
The problem is that much of the pre-existing infrastructure for account-to-account payments is very clunky, not built around APIs, and therefore difficult to expand and integrate into any new service, both those in physical and “electronic” histories. point of sale ”, which could be in a shop but could just as easily be found, for example, in an app to pay for time in a parking lot.
“But account-to-account is a cheaper process and so we had a huge opportunity to solve it, especially in EPOS,” Sokolovas said. Years in the making, Kevin initially had many naysayers, skeptical that APIs could be built to integrate with banks, which have traditionally been slow to embrace them and open their services to others. There are exceptions, of course, like the open banking efforts we’ve seen in the UK, but overall it’s a fragmented and still arcane area. “We are now the only company on the market that has a technical solution behind it.”
There are other companies now catching on, for example POS terminal giant Worldline is working on a solution for accepting account-to-account payments, Tamosiunas said, but it will take years to build, he said.
The bigger theme is that e-commerce remains a large and fast-growing area, but in the return to physical movement following the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the focus is also changing. “Everyone is looking for ways to improve offline, in-store sales,” added Tamosiunas.
The disruption Kevin is looking for here is not just opening up and modernizing a process that has been around for years, but has been difficult to use; but it also offers merchants, consumers and everyone else involved in any transaction a more direct way to enable a particular payment. Being more direct means it’s also cheaper, which is also a significant part of the field – it means anyone who opts for this option can get better margins on transactions. On the contrary, he is also cutting many of the traditional players in the payments ecosystem out of the equation – another kind of disruption.
This is what attracted the attention not only of investors, but also of potential strategic partners and would-be buyers of the startup. The founders wouldn’t go into detail about who knocked on their door, but you could imagine other big players in payment technology old and new (including Stripe, Adyen, PayPal, and maybe even the big credit card rail companies) could be among. those interested in collecting this technology in a diversification game. For now, Kevin has refused even to work with them as strategic investors, in order to remain neutral and not tied to specific platforms.
“Tadas, Pavel and Kevin’s team are fueling the future of payments with their next generation payment infrastructure,” Accel partner Luca Bocchio noted in a statement. “By offering a fast, seamless checkout experience, with reduced costs and increased authentication rates, the time for A2A payments is now and Kevin has already had significant momentum with his offering. With the launch of his unique product for POS payments, the opportunity ahead is huge and we look forward to collaborating with the team on their journey. “
An interesting twist here will be whether and how Kevin and similar ones are integrated with mobile wallets.
Today Kevin is in services when a merchant has integrated their technology into their physical or electronic store and into an app. But today Wallets like Apple Pay or Google Pay only work with cards. Given that so many card transactions are now being supplanted by NFC-based payments using people’s phones, it could potentially limit how much Kevin can grow if he can’t also offer an alternative for consumers to pay this way.
Coincidentally, just yesterday Apple was sued for anti-competitive practices by the EU over how it opens (or doesn’t, as the case may be) its NFC-based wallet technology to other parties. It will be one to watch and one that could have a big impact on how Kevin grows up in the future.