Nothing says this place is popping more than millions of dollars in a round for a 🦄.

While Europe was previously considered a dreary place for startup creation, the impression has changed in recent years. Venture capital firms have since zoned in on the area, putting billions of dollars into the continent: In September, Swedish fintech Klarna $650 million at a $10.6 billion valuation. Venture capital firm Sequoia in November revealed a push into Europe, and London-based virtual events startup Hopin raised at a $2.1 billion valuation that same month.

Adding to that list? London-based payments and fraud prevention company On Tuesday, the startup announced it had raised some $450 million in Series C funding led by Tiger Global Management. Greenoaks Capital, DST Global, Coatue Management, Blossom Capital, Endeavor Catalyst, and Singapore’s Sovereign Wealth Fund GIC also invested.

The funding round propels its valuation to $15 billion, making it the most valuable unicorn in Europe above both Klarna and U.K.-based Global Switch, based on CBInsights data.

The raise highlights a recent theme: payments. Forced online, retailers and businesses have fueled an explosion in contactless payments around the world. The same trend has also emphasized the need for all the related protections, including fraud prevention.

Meanwhile, a buzzy buy-now-pay-later startup in the U.S., Affirm, is expected to begin trading Wednesday. The company has said that it plans to raise as much as $1.8 billion, pricing shares at about $41 to $44 a piece, up from a previous $33 to $38 range. At that range, Affirm would be valued at over $10 billion, exceeding its last private market valuation of $5.5 billion.

The BIGGEST U.S. EMPLOYER SEEKS TO MAKE A FINTECH: Late Monday, Walmart announced the launch of a fintech startup with Ribbit Capital, a venture capital firm well-known in the fintech space. But the duo was rather vague on the details. According to a press release, the startup is “designed to develop and offer modern, innovative and affordable financial solutions,” and CNBC says it is aimed at customers and employees—which is fabulous. Fantastic. And the same mission statement of many a fintech.

That said, the union will be one to watch. Walmart has enormous scale, being the biggest employer in the U.S. and was the largest company by revenue in 2020 (beating out even Amazon). Ribbit, while rather quiet to the press, is a name heard loud and clear with bets in Robinhood, Affirm, and Coinbase.

This partnership also comes after Walmart sought to launch a bid with Microsoft for a piece of TikTok in the summer in a move that could have bolstered its e-commerce chops among young shoppers. TikTok ultimately decided on a deal with Oracle to avoid a ban by President Donald Trump.

Lucinda Shen
Twitter: @shenlucinda

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