This year marks 64 years since the American Express charge card was invented. The same year, “BankAmericard”, which would later become Visa, launched. Fast forward half a century and the modern plastic card went on to become the dominant consumer payment method in the western world. It’s hard to believe that, while the way we live, shop, learn, travel, consume entertainment, and more, have all been dramatically disrupted over the last decades, the way we pay still relies on the same infrastructure invented 60 years ago.
The card networks’ stronghold over distribution has seen merchants’ margins being eaten away, with little alternative. While there have been players who have innovated on the consumer interface and experience, the underlying infrastructure and transaction economics have fundamentally remained unchanged and unfavorable to merchants.
This is where kevin. comes in. kevin. is leveraging open banking and PSD2 to create a new infrastructure for payments across Europe. Thus far, open banking has created new opportunities, allowing companies and consumers to leverage account data in order to access and personalize new products and services. Payments, however, have yet to be cracked. Friction in the user journey, high failure rates, and lack of pan-European geographic coverage from existing providers means that adoption of account-to-account (A2A) payment remains low across Europe today.
When we met Tadas, Pavel and the kevin. team in Vilnius, we were immediately intrigued by their proposition. Tadas and Pavel had seen the inefficiencies in the payments value chain firsthand while working in banking and payments. When PSD2 came into place, they instantly saw the potential in leveraging open banking to create a better infrastructure layer for PSPs, merchants and consumers. A2A payments have had high penetration in certain European markets that have developed their own networks (e.g. iDeal in the Netherlands, Sofort in Germany etc.). However, we’ve yet to see a player able to build a strong infrastructure layer with native bank integrations European-wide without relying on third parties and screen scraping, which drastically impacts reliability. kevin.’s product spans all channels, from online and mobile to offline point of sale (POS). For merchants, using kevin. can mean more than 50% savings in transaction fees, with the huge added benefit of instant settlement. Bank payments also mean stronger authentication, reducing the risk of fraud and painful chargeback fees.
On the consumer side, kevin. has designed the user journey to flow with existing user behaviors, reducing friction and ensuring conversion rates remain high. The unique combination of attention to detail for end customer experience, and steadfast commitment to build the most reliable and scalable platform was something very special to us, as well as the partners and PSPs already working with kevin.
While open banking / PSD2 is one of the most exciting developments in fintech, heralding a new wave of innovation and transforming banking as we know it, payments has remained the most elusive - yet promising - of use cases. Until now. The maturation of bank APIs, merchant awareness, and consumer literacy around mobile banking have created the perfect storm for broader adoption. The ubiquity of bank accounts in Europe allows for unparalleled reach of distribution and - at long last - a payment network to be built on rails that are cheaper and faster for merchants.
As the company announces its Series A, we’re thrilled to be partnering with Tadas, Pavel and the kevin. team. We’re always excited by founders who want to challenge huge industries and reinvent the status quo. Payments infrastructure has stayed largely undisrupted for the past half-century, and we’re looking forward to the journey ahead as kevin. is set to invent the new payment network for the coming decades.