Payment card startup Marqeta confirms $260M round at close to $2B valuation

Startups that are disrupting and unlocking the lucrative world of financial services continue to unlock big funding rounds for themselves.

Today, Marqeta — which helps third parties like Square, Affirm, DoorDash, Kabbage and Instacart build and offer card services to their customers — announced that it has raised a Series E of $260 million led by Coatue Management.

Marqeta plans to use this growth round to continue building out its platform with an emphasis on global expansion, founder and CEO Jason Gardner said in an interview. He added that the funding values the startup at close to $2 billion.

While the company is not yet profitable, it’s growing fast: Gardner said Marqeta has doubled revenues each year for the last three years, and he expects that the next step for the nine-year-old company is likely an IPO in the next 18 months.

The news today confirms our scoop about the funding two months ago. (When it was still raising, the total was $250 million.)

In addition to Coatue, other new investors include Vitruvian Partners, Spark Capital, Lone Pine and Geodesic, with participation from several of Marqeta’s existing investors: Visa, ICONIQ, Goldman Sachs, 83North, Granite Ventures, CommerzVentures and CreditEase.

“We’re incredibly excited to be partnering with Marqeta,” said Kris Fredrickson, partner at Coatue Management, in a statement. “We believe that the company has a world class team, industry leading technology, and the ability to bring about profound change in card issuing and the global payments infrastructure. The company’s momentum over the last several years is a testament to the team’s hard work and the scale of the opportunity at hand.”

The growth of the internet and the use of smartphones for e-commerce has had a big impact on financial transactions: fewer people and businesses are paying and getting paid in cash, and card usage — both physical and virtual — is on the rise. Citing research from Edgar, Dunn & Company, Marqeta estimates the volume of the card issuing industry — that is, transactions made via cards — to be worth around $45 trillion.

“Visa and Mastercard have interconnected every single merchant that accepts cards, and that is still growing significantly,” Gardner said, but that expansion is coming at the same time that banks have been pricey and slow to move to accommodate the long tail of new opportunities for payment services. That is the opportunity that Marqeta is seizing, by providing quick and flexible options to any kind of commerce company that wants to make the move into issuing cards to its customers, along with supporting services around them such as payment reconciliations, real-time fund transfers and customer interactive voice response services. Gardner notes that while credit remains king, alternatives like debit and virtual cards are growing the fastest.

On the international front, the company opened an office in London recently to start to capitalise on building more inroads to providing card-related services to so-called “challenger banks” (examples include N26, Monese, Starling and Revolut) that have emerged with lower fees and app-friendly interfaces to tap into a growing base of younger working people, and older consumers who have grown tired of bank fees and poor options to move their money digitally.

A recent report from Accenture, cited by Reuters, noted that challenger banks collectively now account for 14% of the banking market’s revenues in Europe, or €206 billion ($238 billion) compared to just 3.5% of the U.S. market (which is worth $1.04 trillion).

Further afield, Gardner said the company has its eye on Asia, where he says growth in the past year has been “stagnant,” largely because its a “cash-centric culture.” However, government efforts to bring more transactions into the digital 21st century will lead to about 30% growth next year — an opportunity Gardner said Marqeta will want to try to cash in on.