The acquisition of the Swedish loyalty company Wrapp by the Icelandic fintech company Meniga was probably the best outcome imaginable for everyone involved. The Swedish company, which has had a troublesome journey since its start in 2011, can at last exhale.
Wrapp was set up as a platform where consumers could give away free digital gift tokens to friends on platforms such as Facebook. Consumers could receive a discount of around €5 in selected stores, while the companies got some advertisement in return.
During the DLD conference in Munich 2012, Wrapp co-founder Hjalmar Winbladh told the audience his app would soon be available in both the US and the UK. The hype was real and both the London-based VC firm Atomico and Swedish Creandum were early investors in the company.
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By 2014, after failing to get off the ground in the US, Wrapp decided to pivot. Instead of focusing on gift tokens, the company created a platform for rewards when using credit cards; its valuation was slashed to nearly one-third of its highest valuation of around €37m. By using Wrapp, consumers would get discounted deals from retailers and in return provide the retailer with data about their customers.
Similar to airlines, which have successfully been able to introduce loyalty programs for returning customers, Wrapp envisioned this would be the future model for rewards for shoppers.
To gather the data, Wrapp won over the Scandinavian banks involved, who could also profit on offering their customers great deals. Since 2015 at least six banks have signed up with Wrapp and a few of them have also bought stakes in the company. The Swedish fintech company Klarna and the retailer H&M also jumped on board.
According to Wrapp’s co-founder and former CEO Aage Reerslev, the new owners can open the door to lots more markets through the banking apps of Meniga´s many partners.
Meniga was founded in Iceland 10 years ago, after the country’s spectacular financial crash, and has operations in 30 countries with more than 75 global banking clients. The company helps its clients with a variety of digital solutions, such as banking apps, and has recently expanded into the reward market in Iceland. In comparison to Wrapp, it focuses on creating loyalty programmes within the banking apps instead of having a standalone application.
For Wrapp, the acquisition may mean a more comfortable future. Instead of the time-consuming challenge of striking their own deals with banks, it can now piggyback on Meniga. For Meniga, the acquisition means that it can gain from Wrapp’s expertise and customer base. That could be a win-win situation for both partners if you believe, as they do, that loyalty programmes are one of the best ways to achieve customer satisfaction for banks and retailers alike.
However, Wrapp has not yet demonstrated that this will lead to the hockey stick success that many startups had been anticipating. In its 2017 annual report, the last one available, the company generated revenue of €1m and a loss of €6m. For 2018, according to a press release, revenue was about €3m and the company is now near break even.
In total, Wrapp has taken in about €30m in external capital and the future of the company looked rather bleak before the acquisition.
For the co-founders and investors, this is not a formal exit, though. Investor shares, including those of Atomico, Creandum and the banks, are instead being transferred to Meniga. Nevertheless, the deal may prove to be a neater outcome than seemed possible a little while ago.