EXCLUSIVE: Mastercard and Aiia, a match made in financial Heaven?
American financial giant Mastercard has just completed the acquisition of Danish FinTech Aiia for an undisclosed fee. Whilst this amount will remain unconfirmed, Visa – fellow payment network and competitor – recently completed a similar deal for Fintech ‘Tink’ for around the $2 Billion mark in June 2021 which may serve as a good indicator. Aiia is a licenced PISP and leading European open banking technology provider and Mastercards acquisition cannot come as a shock as it follows the Mastercards recent expansion into the world of Open Banking which commenced with their purchase of Fincity in 2020.
In its simplest form Aiia can be described as a licensed PISP (Payment Initiation Service Provider), a leading European open banking technology providing a direct connection to banks through a slick single API. Aiia allows its customers to develop digital solutions to the problems faced in every aspect of daily life.
What separates Aiia is quite simply the foundations of the company being built upon trust. Rune Mai, CEO and Co-Founder of Aiia reiterated the humble beginnings of a company in 2011 which was unaware of what FinTech was, who began with the aim of ‘helping people live better lives’. Fellow CEO and Co-founder Christian Panton reminded us of the real ‘gold-rush there has been within Open banking, with other companies selling data, cookies and whatever they can get their hands on’. Yet, this desire for hypergrowth at the price of integrity is not one Aiia are willing to pay, prioritising over everything ‘open banking that simply works’ said Rune Mai.
The growth of the company has been steady since the company’s inception however their deal with MasterCard is set to expedite progress with the additional resources and doors opened by MasterCard. 2021 has been an eventful year for Aiia as this deal follows a recent rebrand from ‘Nordic API gateway’ to Aiia in April earlier in the year. Whilst the name change may be interpreted as a marketing decision it signifies a more cultural change within Aiia with the company happy for expansion away from the Nordic region. This notion of being ready for expansion is one which is often ignored by companies desperate to grow as quickly as possible however making sure the company was ready is central to the ethos of Aiia with Rune Mai summing up the work they do perfectly, ‘our concern is how to solve problems more than how to expand the company’. Further adding that expansion should be sought after the product is deemed ready and that it should happen in this order, not the other way around.
Moreover when asked to develop on this notion of being ‘ready’ for expansion into other markets Rune succinctly summed up this as ‘having succeeded in your current market, quantifiable in happy customers’. Once this has been achieved, then, and only then, is one ready for expansion.
Aiia currently processes in excess of 10 million bank logins and more than 1 million account-to-account payments every single month for large banks and e-commerce gateways and it is easy to understand how they have garnered such a loyal customer base because of the stress they place on trust, privacy and transparency within an often very confusing market. Their privacy-first approach to open banking is one of their most attractive features and would have undoubtedly been one of the things which caught the attention of MasterCard. Gudmundur, the final of the trio of Co-Founder CEO’s highlighted specifically that ‘part of the discussions had with MasterCard revolved around how we could team up and improve, develop and further ensure the privacy of their end-users’. With Rune Mai adding that ‘trust is the currency of the future’ it is clear to see that privacy is at the core of all things Aiia and will continue to be at MasterCard.
Aiia also boasts a reach of around 337 million European citizens. As well as this the open banking platform currently provides open banking services to a long list of financial institutions, including Lunar, Danske Bank, Santander to name a few. From this not only will Aiia be gaining significantly in the form of what MasterCard can bring to the table but MasterCard will be gaining fully-fledged European open-banking infrastructure built around trust and quality.
This partnership appears to me to one of those deals in business whereby each side has got the better end of the deal, but to end I will give the last words to Gudmundur to sum up what one should think when one thinks of Aiia, ‘a company dedicated to empowering the end users and allowing them to put their data into play with all kinds of products and doing it in the right way’.
– Joe Butler
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