Checkout.com, the UK-based payments company is expanding its presence in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) after securing a $450 million Series C funding round, tripling the company’s valuation to $15 billion.
Founded in 2012 by Guillaume Pousaz, Checkout.com offers e-commerce players a one-stop-shop for payments – including managing financial transactions, processing payments and detecting fraud.
“We were the first global player to arrive in Mena back in 2013, and now we are doubling our operations in the region,” says Sebastian Reis, executive vice-president of global e-commerce at Checkout.com. “2020 was an eventful year for us, and the recent funding rounds allow us to do what we have been doing so far but faster and more aggressively.”
The company is opening offices in Riyadh and “significantly growing” its team in Dubai to localise customer support and onboarding. While still a small part of its business, the Middle East presents a growing opportunity for Checkout.com, where e-commerce has boomed over the past year.
According to the Connected Payments in MENAP report that was recently released by the company, Checkout.com saw more than 1,000 new merchant inquiries since Covid-19 hit the region, as an unprecedented number of businesses moved online to serve their customers. In addition, the platform witnessed 86 per cent growth in volume of transactions year-on-year throughout the region.
“We have been a very fast-growing company irrespective of Covid-19 happening or not. At no stage have we significantly deviated from our plans that were laid out all the way back to our Series A round of funding. The pandemic did provide us with a strong tailwind, but if anything, it simply reinforced and made more obvious trends that we were seeing anyway. It accelerated the speed at which people moved over to e-commerce and used digital payments,” says Reis.
As Covid-19 proved to be a strong enabler for the growth of the e-commerce industry, Checkout.com has been able to process more than 400 million e-commerce transactions in the region since the pandemic.
“The demand is on a one-way track, people are trusting payments more, seeing how convenient they are and understanding the protection they get from card schemes if there are any problems. All of this increases people’s willingness to use digital payments. On the other side, we have more and more retailers that are putting a lot of effort into making the e-commerce experience the best it can be. This helps to keep driving people down this route,” adds Reis.
According to the report, 47 per cent of consumers in the region say they expect to shop online more frequently in 2021. Only 15 per cent expect their online shopping frequency to decline, while the remaining 38 per cent expect it to remain about the same as in 2020.
“At the margin, we will see a deviation this year. The trajectory we saw in 2020 is unsustainable, so we might see this taper off, but I do not see any form of reversal where we have a dip before things go back to the long-term average again.
“There are still many things we can do to build a system of connected payments, and the more we scratch the surface the more opportunities we see and the road for innovation exists,” says Reis.
In 2020, Checkout.com raised $150 million in Series B fundraise, tripling its then valuation to $5.5 billion.