Competitive pressure from fintech disruptors such as Square has been credited, at least in part, with driving a boom in consolidation among legacy payments players.
But Square, for its part, continues to view itself as separate from what’s happening with traditional payments companies.
During the company’s 1Q2019 earnings call, CEO Jack Dorsey was asked by an analyst about his current perspective on mergers and acquisitions versus organic growth, in the context of recent consolidation activity among merchant acquirers.
“We do see that others are consolidating and acquiring,” Dorsey told the analyst. “But they do so in a fairly typical pattern that we resisted, which is look at just the parts of the equation instead of building a greater ecosystem. So we do have a significant M&A strategy in terms of looking for really great teams, really great products.”
“We haven’t historically taken a position of just buying revenue or buying customers. We want to buy technology and that is what we’re focused on. So I do think we will continue to see consolidation, but that doesn’t worry me,” he continued.
When payments veterans combine, they often tout increased scale and combined revenue as reasons for the mergers.
“Scale matters in our rapidly changing industry,” Gary Norcross, chairman, president and chief executive officer of FIS said when the company announced its merger with Worldpay. “Upon closing later this year, our two powerhouse organizations will combine forces to offer a customer-driven combination of scale, global presence and the industry’s broadest range of global financial solutions.”
Square’s strategy differs in that it is focused on specific solutions, according to Dorsey’s comments.
“We tend to do much smaller ones than our peers because we’ve managed to find really great teams that every single person in the organization has really high impact, and that’s what we want to optimize for ultimately. But it comes down to — we’re constantly looking at the rising of what companies are out there, start-ups, current companies and making decisions based on what we see and the quality of the people, the quality of the work, quality of the product,” he said.
In an interview with PaymentFacilitator after the FIS-Worldpay merger was announced, Rick Oglesby argued that scale-focused M&A activity may create openings for payment facilitators in general.
“As these companies get bigger, they will naturally focus on larger business opportunities and increasingly concede smaller ones to third parties by enabling PFs and other integration deals. Specialized product offerings and niche-oriented distribution are not part of the program for a scale business,” he said.