The main entrance at JPMorgan’s headquarters in New York City.
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JPMorgan Chase has agreed to acquire a payments startup called Renovite to fend off threats from fintech firms including Stripe and Block , CNBC has learned.
The bank, a major player in the global payments arena, said that acquiring Fremont, California based Renovite will speed up its ability to roll out new offerings to merchants.
While JPMorgan is the world’s biggest provider of merchant services by transaction volume, fast-growing upstarts including Stripe and Block have climbed the rankings in recent years, thanks to booming e-commerce sales and the proliferation of new payment methods. Merchant acquirers are crucial, behind-the-scenes providers that enable sellers to accept in-person and online payments, keeping a small cut of each transaction.
Despite operating a payments juggernaut that processes more than $9 trillion daily across several businesses, JPMorgan’s merchant acquiring revenue stalled last year in part because it was behind in some e-commerce segments and offered fewer services than some fintech rivals, global payments chief Takis Georgakopoulos told investors in a May conference.
“Changing that picture is a big story behind our investments,” Georgakopoulos vowed.
The Renovite acquisition, reported first by CNBC, is the latest in a string of fintech deals made under CEO Jamie Dimon. Since late 2020, JPMorgan has acquired at least five startups, from an ESG investing platform to a UK-based roboadvisor, on top of making a series of smaller fintech investments.
Dimon has repeatedly raised the alarm about the threat fintech players pose to traditional banks, especially in the highly competitive payments game.
Fintech players have used payments processing for merchants as a wedge to help them build ecosystems that have garnered eye-watering valuations. They also have generally been more nimble in enabling new payment methods like offerings from Klarna and Affirm.
Dimon has been forced to defend his bank’s rising expenses this year as it plows billions of dollars into technology amid a 25% stock slump driven by recession fears.
The Renovite deal, for terms that couldn’t be determined, shows that the longtime CEO is undeterred by concerns that he’s spending too much on tech.
From trials to takeover
JPMorgan ran trials with Renovite as a vendor last fall, but was impressed enough with the startup’s products — especially a cloud-based switch that routes payments to various providers — that it decided to acquire the company outright, according to Mike Blandina, the bank’s global head of payments technology.
The plug-and-play nature of the switch platform allows JPMorgan to add new payments options in a fraction of the time it used to take because it requires far less coding, he said in an interview.
“Our clients really value choice; they want to offer many different payment methods to their clients, whether it’s Visa, MasterCard, but also Buy-now, pay-later, etc,” said Max Neukirchen, the firm’s global head of payments & commerce solutions.
“The ability to turn on these very country-specific payments methods also helps us in our geographic expansion, because we don’t need to spend a lot of time building out local payment methods,” he added.
While JPMorgan is often content to partner with fintechs and take relatively small stakes in them, the bank felt that Renovite’s product was too important not to own, Neukirchen said.
The bank also coveted the firm’s roughly 125 engineers, located in India and the U.K., to help JPMorgan on its product roadmap, he added.