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BlackRock-backed fintech Trustly says IPO still at least one year out even as profits jump 51%

BlackRock-backed fintech Trustly says IPO still at least one year out even as profits jump 51%
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Trustly CEO Johan Tjarnberg.


The boss of Swedish financial technology startup Trustly says an initial public offering for the company is still a year or two away from happening, even after a 51% jump in operating profit.

In an exclusive interview with CNBC, Johan Tjarnberg, CEO of Trustly, said that his firm still needs time to prove the value of its open banking technology to investors before going public.

“We need another year or two to really demonstrate to the market that open banking is happening happening, it’s here,” Tjarnberg told CNBC.

“For me, there is so much we want to demonstrate to the market in terms of user adoption, merchant adoption. We still need some time to execute on our existing playbook.”

Trustly is holding out on an IPO even after reporting a strong set of financials. Results shared exclusively with CNBC show the firm reported revenues of $265 million in its 2023 full year.

Growth accelerated significantly in the second half of the year, Trustly said, climbing 27% compared with the same period in 2022. That was as transaction volumes spiked 48% over the same period.

Tjarnberg told CNBC that the company’s performance in 2023 was heavily driven by the growth at its U.S. business. Trustly merged with American rival PayWithMyBank in 2020.

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“We invested a lot into the U.S. market,” Tjarnberg said. “We were roughly 20 people there four years ago; we now have 500 supporting the U.S. market.”

Tjarnberg said that, in the first quarter of this year, Trustly saw heightened growth in areas like utilities, retail, and travel, with 22% of volumes coming from those core verticals, up 44% over 12 months.

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Trustly increased operating profit by 51% in full-year 2023, with adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization) climbing to $51 million from $33 million in 2022.

That was as overall transaction value processed during 2023 climbed by 79%, to $58 billion.

Trustly helps companies integrate the ability to accept payments via open banking technology.

This tech lets consumers make payments directly to a merchant’s bank account without the need for an intermediary such as a card issuer.

It provides an alternative to incumbent credit card programs such as Mastercard and Visa, which charge merchants high fees for transactions.

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In the U.S., Tjarnberg said, Trustly is seeing heightened demand from merchants “trying to take down costs,” as high card processing fees have made them more price-conscious.

“There is no secret that our objectives and ambition is to bring a good alternative to other payment methods, including cards,” he told CNBC.

Open banking is a trend which has gained significant momentum, particularly across Europe.

That’s thanks to the introduction of regulations which require banks to open their clients’ account data and payment functionalities to third-party firms.

It has paved the way for new entrants into finance including fintechs, startups and tech companies. Founded in 2008, Sweden’s Trustly competes with the likes of GoCardless, TrueLayer, Volt, Bud, and Yapily.

Future product plans

Trustly expects to launch a feature that allows its merchants to set up recurring payments for customers. That will be targeted at things like telecom packages and subscription-based music streaming services.

Tjarnberg said Trustly is “bullish” on the mobile space, particularly in the U.S. after having seen early success in mobile billing partnerships with the likes of AT&T and T-Mobile.

Trustly is used by more than 9,000 merchants worldwide including Facebook, Alibaba, PayPal, eBay, AT&T, Unicef, Dell, Lyft, DraftKings, Wise, and eToro.

Trustly is majority-owned by venture capital firm Nordic Capital, which owns a 51.1% stake in the business. Alfven & Didrikson is its second-biggest backer, with a 11.1% stake, while BlackRock holds an 8.9% stake.

Aberdeen Standard Investments and Neuberger Berman own 0.7% and 0.9% stakes in Trustly, respectively, while others including the Trustly management and employees own 27.4%.

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