JPMorgan Chase’s acquisition prowess is picking up in 2022 where it left off last year. The U.S.’s largest bank agreed Tuesday to acquire a 49% stake in the Greek fintech Viva Wallets.
The Athens-based company serves small and medium-sized businesses in 23 European countries through bill pay, merchant cash advance and card acceptance through a point-of-sale app. Viva Wallets is also a virtual debit card issuer.
“The European payments landscape is fragmented yet large in terms of opportunity, with more than 17 million merchants ready to implement scalable payments solutions, and this is a big focus area for added growth” for JPMorgan,” Takis Georgakopoulos, the bank’s head of global payments, said in a statement Tuesday.
Financial terms of the transaction, which is subject to regulatory approvals, were not disclosed. But a source told Reuters the Greek firm was valued at more than $2 billion. Bloomberg reported in November the bank was considering investing in Viva Wallets, and that the fintech sought a valuation of at least $1.7 billion.
JPMorgan's investment will exceed $1.15 billion, including a capital increase that won’t dilute its founders' majority stake, Reuters reported Tuesday.
Viva Wallets obtained a banking license when it bought Greece's first digital challenger, Praxia Bank, in 2020 — which could be handy if JPMorgan decides to increase its stake.
Haris Karonis, Viva Wallets’ CEO, said JPMorgan’s investment Tuesday “will enable us to complete the build-out of our vision to deliver fully localized payments and transactions services to SMBs across Europe.”
Regulations prohibit JPMorgan Chase from acquiring additional U.S.-based deposit-taking institutions because it already holds more than 10% of U.S. deposits. So it has taken to investing in businesses that are banking-adjacent — or outside banking entirely.
JPMorgan made more than 30 acquisitions in 2021, Reuters reported, citing data from Refinitiv and Dealogic. That includes a trio of deals in September — for the college financial planning platform Frank; the restaurant platform The Infatuation, which owns the Zagat guidebook; and nearly 75% of German car-maker Volkswagen’s payments platform.
The bank has also made significant investments overseas, agreeing to buy British digital wealth management platform Nutmeg for a reported £700 million ($972.8 million), and taking a 40% ownership stake in the Brazilian digital bank C6. JPMorgan Chase also launched a digital-only retail bank in the U.K. in September.
Tuesday's deal also follows a 2020 pledge from CEO Jamie Dimon that JPMorgan would be “much more aggressive with acquisitions across the board.”