Italy’s New Payments Goliath; Nigerian Fintech Funds SMEs in the CEE

Italy’s Nexi to Acquire Rival SIA in $5.4 Billion Deal

Italy has a new payments behemoth on the block courtesy of a big acquisition in its financial services industry. Nexi, the country’s biggest payments processor with more than $1.16 billion (€984 million) in revenue in 2019, has agreed to acquire banking and fintech solution provider SIA. The purchase price on the all-stock deal comes in at nearly $5.4 billion (€4.6 billion), and will create a new payments contender in the European market with a market capitalization estimated at $17.7 billion (€15 billion).

The acquisition will mark the second big deal in Europe’s payments space this year; Worldline agreed to acquire Ingenico Group earlier this year for $8.6 billion (€7.8 billion).

The combined company will be led by Nexi CEO Paulo Bertoluzzo, and will have two million merchants and 120 million cards. Analysts have suggested Nexi will be able to double its 2019 annual revenue to $2.13 billion (€1.8 billion) post acquisition, and enhance its business in Central and Eastern European markets in particular.

Curious about fintech in the EU’s third most populous member state? EY’s 2020 FinTech Waves report provides an in-depth overview of Italy’s fintech market, which grew from 16 fintech startups in 2011 to 345 fintech startups in 2019. The report notes that the country’s banking sector, though challenged by legacy systems in many instances, is focused on leveraging technology to improve efficiency and boost revenues. Five areas where Italian fintech startups have been especially active, based on EY’s research, are crowdfunding, machine learning/AI, smart payments and money transfers, lending, and insurtech.

“According to our analysis, the Italian FinTech ecosystem is heterogenous, small in size, but with high potential,” the report authors write. Read the full 100+ page report.

Nigerian Fintech Sees Opportunity in CEE SMEs

Lidya, which helps finance small businesses in its home country of Nigeria, has tuned its radar to opportunities far away: in Eastern Europe, to be specific. Earlier this week, the company announced that it had lent three million to small businesses based in the Czech Republic and Poland. Lidya went live in the Czech Republic in March and began offering its services in Poland one month later.

Lidya currently operates in 14 countries in Africa. The company’s expansion gives it the opportunity to lend not only to more small businesses, but to make larger loans, as well. Loans in Lidya’s native Nigeria average $1,500, and are available for as low as $150; Lidya co-founder Ercin Eksin said he anticipates that its operations in Europe could yield loan sizes 4x as big, given the GDP per capita difference between African markets and those in the CEE.

For more on Lidya and the technology scene in sub-Saharan Africa, check out this TechCrunch interview with Lidya CEO and co-founder Tunde Kehinde.

Here is our look at fintech around the world.

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • South African challenger bank Bettr readies for 2021 launch.
  • Ventureburn features PayCurve, an “ethical salary early access solution” provider based in South Africa.
  • Nigeria’s ImaliPay introduces new tailored financial products for gig economy workers.

Central and Eastern Europe

  • Four of Estonia’s biggest banks partner with AML startup Salv to launch pilot program AML Bridge.
  • Vienna, Austria-based Trality, which is developing a trading bot for cryptocurrencies, raises $1.95 million (£1.5 million) in new funding.
  • Estonia’s Sparq secures $517,800 (€440,000) in funding from Baltic International Bank.

Middle East and Northern Africa

  • Fintech Magazine features Commercial Bank of Dubai COO Stefan Kimmel on digitization in banking.
  • Dubai-based financial services platform Rise introduces its Xare app for expatriate workers to remit money back home.
  • Albawaba profiles five of the “biggest fintech startups” in the Middle East: PayTabs, Bayzat, Liwwa, Tribal Credit, Aqeed.

Central and Southern Asia

  • State Bank of India (SBI) launches the country’s first contactless payments wristwatch.
  • Uni, an Indian fintech startup that seeks to bring affordable financing options to the underserved, raises $18.5 million in seed funding.
  • A collaboration between Pakistan’s National Center for Cybersecurity and the National Clearing Company of Pakistan Limited has led to the creation of an AI-based cybersecurity system to help spot suspicious activity in financial transactions.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Financial Times looks at the role of Colombian fintechs in the overall landscape of banking in Latin America.
  • IBS Intelligence reviews the top five fintech funding rounds from September, highlighting Neon, dLocal, Marco Financial, Ideal, and Zoop.
  • In a world in which ride-sharing apps are getting into fintech, Costa Rican fintech Omni announced this week that it was launching a ride-sharing service.


  • Bank of Thailand introduces the world’s first blockchain-based platform for government savings bonds.
  • Indonesian fintech BukuWarung, which provides financial services to small businesses, raises as much as $15 million in new funding.
  • MyMy, a digital payments startup based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, raises $2.8 million (RM 12 million) in the country’s largest fintech seed round to date.