Disruptor 50 2021

13. Checkout.com

Founder: Guillaume Pousaz (CEO)
Launched: 2012
Headquarters: London
$830 million
Valuation: $15 billion
Key technologies:
Cloud computing
Previous appearances on Disruptor 50 List: 0

Persephone Kavallines

Guillaume Pousaz went seven years without accepting external funding for his start-up. Now, Checkout.com is one of the most valuable fintech unicorns in the world.

Pousaz initially wanted to become an investment banker, but he dropped out of his college in Switzerland to become a surfer in California. The Swiss-born entrepreneur then found a job at International Payments Consultants, but left to try his luck at building a start-up. Pousaz eventually started Checkout.com in 2012 to solve the problem of online payment processing for merchants and their customers. The start-up competes in the same space as U.S. payments giant Stripe, ranked No. 2 on this year's CNBC Disruptor 50 list, and Dutch rival Adyen, processing billions of dollars in transactions every year for the likes of Coinbase, Pizza Hut and H&M.

Once an obscure name, Checkout.com turned heads in 2019 when it raised $230 million in a bumper Series A financing round. In just three years, Checkout.com has seen its valuation rise more than sevenfold, from $2 billion to an eye-watering $15 billion. The company's latest investment round, led by Tiger Global, makes Checkout.com the second-largest fintech start-up by market value in Europe, after Klarna, and the fifth-biggest globally, according to CB Insights. It also makes Pousaz one of Europe's biggest fintech billionaires — on paper, at least, according to Forbes.

It's no secret that the digital payments industry was a key beneficiary of the coronavirus pandemic. Checkout.com says it saw a 250% increase in transactions on its system at the start of the pandemic, while 2020 processing volumes tripled year-on-year. The company takes a small fee for each transaction it processes. Checkout.com is looking to build on that momentum by ramping up its investment in new products and a U.S. expansion that would see it compete more aggressively with Stripe. The company has over 1,000 employees globally and plans to hire another 700 this year.

In February, Checkout.com announced it had hired former Twilio executive Ott Kaukver as its chief technology officer and brought in ex-WeWork sales chief Nick Worswick as its chief revenue officer. In an interview last year, Pousaz told CNBC his company was "taking the Stripe approach of poaching people from the absolute best companies globally."

Contributed by Ryan Browne

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