Trustly Acquires Competitor Ecospend for Foothold in British Market

The Swedish FinTech company Trustly has acquired its competitor Ecospend, a UK open banking vendor, as part of its plan to gain a foothold in the British market. This acquisition will also gain Trustly a client in Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs and, in addition to this, the company will also inherit several blue-chip private sector clients such as ITV and London Mutual Credit Union.

As the UK is one of Trustly’s core growth markets, its acquisition of Ecospend will progress its portfolio of clients and position in the Open Banking space. In 2021, Trustly processed over $28 billion in transaction volume. The company serves over 8,100 merchants and is spread across 10 offices in Europe, Australia and the Americas.

 Risks Encountered with Open Banking

 

Trustly is a leading company in digital account-to-account payments. The platform aims to power the shift to a cardless society and sets itself apart by handling the entire payment journey of its clients. Customers can pay merchants directly from their online bank accounts whilst the digital platform can offer an alternative to traditional card networks at a lower cost. 

Open banking connects third parties, banks and technical providers to enable them to securely exchange data to their customers’ benefit. 

Although Open Banking was made to allow for the secure exchanging of data, questions have been raised over the connected risks of fraud as customer information, as well as financial products and services, are all at risk of being exploited. Open Banking fraud has grown at an alarming rate as the larger ecosystem it provides also offers a greater potential for various third-party players to be involved. As a result, fraudsters can utilise this potential and target the weakest links in the Open Banking chain.

The buyout of Ecospend by Trustly comes as a direct response to PSD2 regulations introduced in the UK. The regulations were partially made to reduce fraud rates in Open Banking. Ecospend held an FCA compliance certificate allowing the firm to perform data services through Open Banking. Trustly’s strategic move comes as the UK has prepared for the rapid adoption and development in the nature of Open Banking. 

A Look into the Acquisition

 

Trustly currently leads on digital account-to-account payments. The CEO of the Stockholm-based firm, Johan Trärnberg, has stated, “I am delighted to welcome Ecospend to Trustly.” Although the financial technology companies did not disclose the financial terms of the deal, Trustly is currently valued at just over $1bn.

“This is a perfect strategic fit and I am convinced that it will enable us to deliver a market-leading product in the UK, allowing us to capture opportunities and accelerate our current UK expansion.” Ecospend’s strong UK Payment Initiation and Account Information Services in addition to its connectivity with over 80 UK bands make it a strong fit with Trustly’s capabilities.

Metin Erkman, the founder of Ecospend, said “Together with Trustly we will be able to further accelerate our expansion in the UK and continue to raise the bar for service excellence to our customers.”

The buyout comes a year after Trustly postponed a $9bn IPO launch after concerns were flagged over the company’s due diligence. One particular area of concern for regulators made by the Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority was Trustly’s dealings in the high-risk betting industry.  

In a response to this, Oscar Berglund – the then Trustly chief executive – admitted that the betting sector was “a higher-risk kind of merchant” and stated, “we need to do closer checks on them, which we do.”