A small coffee chain increases revenue with embedded finance | Why you should follow fintech news

Hi embedded finance friend!

We are back to the usual biweekly cadence of the Embedded Finance Review newsletter. I am still aiming to make it a weekly newsletter, but it is currently not feasible for me (hint: upgrade to premium so I can spend more time on it 😃).

As mentioned in the last edition, I am working behind the scenes on two Embedded Finance Review events for the first half of 2024. This is likely going to be Berlin in April and Amsterdam in June. If you are interested in sponsoring, have a look here and ping me.

Last but not least, I want to tailor the content of this newsletter around your preferences. So I am asking you for a favour: Can you take 45 seconds (!) of your time and fill out this five-questions survey? With your input, I can pick stories from the geo and angles of embedded finance you like. Thank you!

In this edition, I cover the following stories:

  • How a (small) coffee chain leverages embedded finance to increase revenue and reduce payment costs.
  • Why you should always stay alert and follow fintech news, even when working in embedded finance.
  • Mobile.de and a Slovenian city launch new payment products, Tesco sells its bank
  • Liberis and Sprinque announce new partnerships and Mollie and Visa introduce new products
  • A new embedded finance report as well as two interesting comments on the US BaaS development.

Let’s dive in!

Non-Financial Brands 🏢

US coffee chain increases average order frequency by 30% with embedded finance

When you hear about a coffee chain and embedded finance, you likely think about Starbucks. While this story is not about them directly, it seems like Starbucks was the inspiration for the product.

Compass Coffee is a US coffee chain with a rather small footprint: 16 stores in Washington, DC, and Virginia. The company was exploring ways to allow customers to order a coffee ahead of time and pick it up in the store. Since they knew the Starbucks solution, they were wondering if they could build an order system that does not increase payment costs substantially.

The result is an embedded wallet, for which the coffee leveraged the infrastructure provider, Ansa. The solution resulted in a 30% increase in order frequency, lowered payment costs by 28%, and increased revenue by 26% (for wallet users vs. non-wallet users).

Such a service typically targets loyal customers who shop often with the same merchant. With the embedded wallet, the frequent customer would top up a certain amount into the wallet (perhaps combined with an initial financial incentive) and use the account balance for future purchases. Each purchase paid with the wallet is basically a peer-to-peer transaction between the user and the merchant’s wallet and is either free or much lower than a card transaction. A customer with a wallet is obviously more likely to shop again, especially if there’s a balance on the wallet.

Additionally, the merchant can use the wallet infrastructure to pay out financial rewards and refunds. A reward paid into the wallet can only be spent at the merchant, which reduces the costs of the promotional campaign. If a customer requests a refund, the merchant can ask them if they want the refund into their wallet, potentially offering a financial or other benefit when choosing this option.

Personally, I like the Compass Coffee wallet because it shows that small companies (Compass Coffee has less than 200 employees) can leverage embedded finance for their benefits as well.

Europe

  • The German automotive marketplace mobile.de announces a tailored payment solution that allows users to pay or get paid for their vehicle within the marketplace.
  • Tesco Bank sells credit cards, loans, and savings operations to Barclays for up to £1 billion. The initial agreement is lasting 10 years, and 2,800 Tesco Bank employees will be transferring to Barclays.
  • The Slovenian city of Kranj launches a city card, CeKR, that offers identity functionality for public and commercial service providers as well as open-loop payment functionality. This is apparently the first of its kind.
  • Revolut is rolling out an 'eSIM' service to help UK customers combat soaring data roaming bills when abroad.

Infrastructure Provider 🏗️

meerkat lookout GIF by Nat Geo Wild

Gif by natgeowild on Giphy

Why you should follow fintech news

Since leaving my last job and becoming an independent embedded finance consultant a bit over a year ago, I have worked on a number of projects. Many of them involved the selection process for an infrastructure provider. Identifying and selecting an infrastructure provider is an important step since this provider will likely have a big impact on the product experience and success. Rightly so, many companies spent a good amount of time and resources on this decision. But once that decision is made, this exercise is not finished. There are many scenarios where an infrastructure provider is not fit anymore and needs to be replaced. This is often the case when problems or challenges arise with that provider, but it can also be triggered from the outside. A few examples from this week:

In August 2023, Adyen ‘shocked’ its investors when it announced that costs had increased, growth had been reduced, and the stock price had fallen by 40%. I have heard from a few founders and managers whose companies rely heavily on Adyen that they got very nervous and were wondering if they should look for alternatives. This week, Adyen announced impressive numbers, and the stock is at a six-month high. Another payment service provider, Checkout.com, on the other hand, reportedly suffered a £100 million loss in its UK company in 2022. What is even more worrying is, that net losses were up 400% compared to 2021, but revenue remained at the same level ($246 million in 2022, $260 million in 2021). Does that sound healthy? Lastly, Swedish VC Kinnevek has written off its investment in Monese. Monese is known for it’s international banking solutions but has also announced an infrastructure product in the past. I don’t want to go into detail about each story; they just serve as examples from the last two weeks.

Many embedded finance products will depend on at least a few infrastructure providers. The orchestration of service providers can solve this in some areas (i.e., payment), but not in all of them (i.e., banking). Therefore, I urge you to stay active and follow stories around your infrastructure provider closely. The Adyen example shows that not all bad news results in bad times (and maybe the other two neither), but at least you want to be aware of them. Many non-financial brands are investing a lot of resources into finding the right provider, but they should stay alert. This is not only an exercise for the selection process.

Europe

  • UK embedded lending provider Liberis has joined forces with Alloy, an identity risk management company, to simplify the funding application process by integrating automated compliance verifications.
  • Dutch B2B payments platform Sprinque announces a partnership with Mangopay to enable merchants and marketplaces to take advantage of customisable payment infrastructures and terms.
  • UK embedded investment provider Seccl Technology announced that its parent company, Octopus, is set to expand its shareholding in the business. Seccl’s co-founders, David Harvey and Hugo Thorman, will depart the company next month as well.
  • German automobile club ADAC updates it’s customers that their credit card portfolio will move to Solaris in Q3 of 2024. Solaris won the contract in 2022, but in 2023, stories surfaced that Solaris was struggling to raise the necessary funds. Even a partnership with another bank was an option, but this seems resolved now.
  • Embedded payments provider Monite secured a $6 million top-up round, led by Peter Thiel-backed Valar Ventures and Third Prime. The German company has already taken strategic steps to enter the US market and is planning to use the funds to increase this effort.
  • Dutch PSP Mollie announced the UK launch of Mollie Capital, a fast and flexible way for SME merchants to access funding. Mollie Capital gives UK retailers the opportunity to access up to £250,000. Mollie launched the same service in continental Europe in 2022.

North America

  • Visa is teaming up with Conferma Pay to let financial institutions add virtual corporate cards into employees’ digital wallets.
  • NMI unveils a new embedded payments solution for software companies, independent sales organisations, and payment professionals. The NMI Payments platform easily integrates within existing applications and payment solutions, offering a flexible, modular approach that expedites and streamlines payments.

Insightful links 🤓

  • Swiss embedded investment provider Additiv publishes a report on ‘How consumers access financial services’.
  • The rise of developer first issuer processing and it’s historical development in the US.
  • Is the European Office of CFO SaaS the new battleground for embedded fintech?
  • Operational Efficiency: The Next Frontier For Fintech

From the community 🏘️

  • “I looked at EVERY SINGLE [US] BaaS provider, and there is no way I’d go down that route.” Food for thought for companies in the process of looking for a BaaS provider.
  • Tech or compliance? An interesting commentary on the US BaaS development.

No jobs this week 😥 Send me exciting embedded finance-related roles, and I will list them in the next edition!