H1 2021

Shareholder letter

Shareholder Letter H1 2021

* Please refer to the Interim Condensed Consolidated Financial Statements for further detail on historically restated figures.

Enterprise merchant base continues to drive majority of volume growth

  • Continuous addition of household names to the platform paired with minimal churn

  • Enterprise merchants' priorities continue to set product development strategy

  • Expanding our licensing footprint to support our merchants globally — e.g. US branch license, acquiring capabilities in Japan and the UAE

Increasingly advanced product suite providing opportunities in an ever-evolving space

  • Adyen for Platforms solves for the challenges of companies running the increasingly dominant business model of our time

  • Opportunities for our 3DS2 solution continue to arise due to the ongoing trend towards strong customer authentication

  • Additional use cases for Adyen Issuing as a result of product design — now in the realm of expense management

Momentum in unified commerce and increased retail footprint

  • POS volume doubled year-on-year as unified commerce became increasingly business critical for merchants

  • Unified commerce solution available to larger part of the market via platforms and partnerships

  • Longer-term shifts in shopper preferences now ingrained due to COVID-19 pandemic

A culture-first approach to building Adyen

  • Growing the team to 1,954 FTE across 26 offices globally

  • Simultaneously building attractive workspaces and the online infrastructure required for remote working

  • Increasing our ESG focus with more comprehensive disclosures

Longer-term trends ingrained during a half year of strong profitable growth

August 19, 2021

Dear shareholders,

The results for the first half of 2021 were strong. We processed €216.0 billion during the period, up 67% year-on-year. Net revenue was €445.0 million, up 46% year-on-year. This growth came largely from increased volume of enterprise merchants already on the platform. Within the enterprise space, merchants running platform businesses were a major growth driver. We invested significantly in building out our offering for these merchants over the past years, and are now seeing solid results of that work. One outcome of us growing with our largest merchants is that take rate trended downward. This is a natural consequence of our business model, as we focus on generating incremental net revenue by onboarding profitable volume at scale.

The COVID-19 pandemic continued to dominate the day-to-day reality of many of our merchants. As such, helping our merchants navigate the ever-shifting environment of the global pandemic remained a primary focus. Despite the impact of the pandemic, there was continuity too — with the majority (>80%) of our growth coming from merchants that were already on the platform in previous periods, which has been a constant since our IPO. Volume churn remained consistently low (<1%), and regional diversification of net revenue again increased. This leaves us confident that we are solidly executing our strategy in a space that is consistently buoyed by macroeconomic trends (e.g. the digitization of commerce and the transition from cash to cashless), many of which were accelerated by COVID-19. These trends have always helped us, and emphasize how payments function as a strategic driver for businesses around the world.


With each shareholder letter we write, we are a more global business. Of the regions, North America continued to stand out. The region’s contributions rose to 22% of net revenue, growing 80% year-on-year. This acceleration comes on the back of almost a decade of investments. Starting out, we mainly helped US merchants expand outside the region. Today, we are consistently able to win US domestic volume as we are well-positioned to help merchants solve for the evolving complexity in the North American payments landscape (e.g. shopper preferences evolving towards multi-channel shopping journeys and payment method proliferation). There is significant opportunity with both new and existing merchants — our merchant base now includes household names such as Airbnb, American Eagle, and Slice. The trend in our North American footprint mirrors our historical track record — we see increased opportunity when the environment grows more complex.

Consistent with previous periods, the cadence of lockdown restrictions impacted our volumes. In travel, this was reflected in processed volume rebounding to pre-pandemic levels towards the end of the period due to Europe and North America gradually reopening for domestic travel in late spring. In Europe, volume of online travel agencies rebounded quicker than airline volume, due to many people opting for closer-to-home vacationing. For North America, the easing of interstate air travel resulted in an uptick in airline volume. Our full-stack [1] volume share, which was 83% for the period, was impacted by relatively low airline volume, as we tend not to act as an acquirer in this space. For reference, this was 77% in H1 2020, and 71% in H1 2019. 

The pandemic marks an inflection point in the significance of the industry as multi-channel shopping journeys were ingrained in shopper preferences globally. As a result, unified commerce strategies shifted from a nice-to-have to a need-to-have for businesses around the world. Due to this reality, and despite the impact of global lockdown restrictions, we continued to see significant growth in retail, with in-store [2] and online volumes growing in tandem. Point-of-sale (POS) volume doubled year-on-year, as it reached €22.8 billion in H1 2021, comprising 11% of total processed volume. The growth of these volumes further emphasizes the increased relevance of our unified commerce proposition. The addition of leading names such as LVMH and The Body Shop underscores this success. 

We have made it no secret that we are building Adyen for the long term, and see our team and tech stack as key success factors. As such, we continue to invest in both. During the period, we grew the team — which totaled 1,954 FTE at the end of the period — and further built out our data center infrastructure. 

[1] Full-stack volume is volume for which we are in the money flow, and are therefore paying out to merchants.

[2] In-store retail volume is not a proxy for total point-of-sale volume.


Strong results across growth pillars

Enterprise merchants that were onboarded in previous periods continued to drive the majority of volume growth in the first half of the year. By building trusted partnerships with our merchants, we are continuously able to win additional volume. A recent example of the success of this approach is how our partnership with McDonald’s has grown over time. In 2019, we launched mobile transactions in the UK with them and have since expanded to do the same in Canada, the UAE, and additional European markets. 

Our sales pipeline remained robust and has not been markedly impacted by the pandemic. We maintain a global sales strategy by working across teams and regions as many of our merchants require a cross-functional approach. Notable additions to the merchant portfolio during the period include SHEIN, O Boticário, and Shopback. 


Within enterprise, we saw significant success with merchants operating platform business models. To enable these merchants in unlocking the full strength of our solution to businesses of all sizes, and efficiently increase our reach into the long tail of the market, we built Adyen for Platforms. These enterprise-level partnerships help us democratize access to the Adyen platform, and allow smaller businesses to embrace payments as a strategic asset. Our global partnership with eBay, which we continued to expand in the first half of 2021, is one example of this approach.

Where we historically have been strong with our online offering for platforms, we now increasingly see these merchants opting for a unified commerce set-up. Platform merchants added to our merchant portfolio during the period illustrate the variety of use cases of our offering — including hospitality software provider CloudBeds, leisure and entertainment business enabler Roller, and sports and fundraising platform RunSignUp.

The COVID-19 pandemic made that the longer-term shift towards unified commerce shopper journeys is now ingrained in shopper preferences. For retailers, this means that presenting a single brand across channels became essential. Ordering ahead, curbside pick-up, and in-store purchases with self-service checkouts will continue to be part of our everyday reality. Our single platform is unique in its capability of helping merchants implement such multi-channel journeys. 

We see this reflected in our merchant portfolio too. The historical trends of existing merchants adding a second channel and new merchants immediately opting for a unified commerce set-up continued as we move more broadly across industries and away from a previous concentration of high-end retail merchants. Following that trend, we continued to add leading names across verticals — including quick-service restaurant Nando’s in APAC, toys and games retailer Ravensburger in Europe, and health service provider Dr. Consulta in Brazil.

In order to unlock our unified commerce solution for smaller merchants in a scalable manner, we work with businesses like EPOSNow and Lightspeed. This approach allows us to efficiently provide our unified commerce solution to merchants of any size.

We built out low-touch acquisition and support models specifically for mid-market merchants in the first half of this year. Additionally, we are rolling out an online education program to help merchants get the most out of our platform without the need for extensive account management. Another noteworthy development is how we expanded our BigCommerce partnership with a go-live within a day model for SME businesses. This is the first application of an approach we look forward to roll out more broadly.


Merchant-driven innovation at global scale

We keep our merchants’ needs central to our strategy development to allow for swift iterations on our product. To efficiently do so, we maintain a flat organizational structure comprised of dynamic workstreams that work directly with our merchants — integrating product, commercial, and technical expertise into every team. Our licensing approach mirrors this philosophy, as expansion is always driven by merchant demand.

To best support our merchants, we continually build out our full-stack capabilities. Following longer-term investments, we obtained multiple licenses in the first half. Notably, we were granted our US branch license. Our European banking license has helped many of our merchants grow, and we see similar opportunities for our merchants in the US. Other improvements include the expansion of our acquiring capabilities in Japan and the UAE. Both are illustrative to how we build driven by merchant demand — our launching merchants in Japan were Microsoft and Breitling, and we moved into the UAE with HMS Host International and Fabergé. 

The sophisticated controls (e.g. time-, location-, and category-based) of Adyen Issuing support a plethora of use cases. We saw additional applications go live in the first half of 2021 in the realm of expense management. Our Issuing offering allows these merchants to achieve operational efficiency by instantly streamlining these processes. Illustrative is how accounting software provider Visma implemented the product to enhance its software for a broad range of expenses, and how Just Eat Takeaway.com is leveraging the product to build out a new revenue stream, allowing its corporate clients’ employees to order food and beverages without having to submit an expense report. 

The widespread industry trend towards strong customer authentication (SCA) continued during the period, and was further supported by the PSD2 regulation coming into effect across Europe. As the topic is top of mind for regulators and networks, we focused on best helping our merchants navigate this complex regulatory space with our machine learning-driven 3DS2 feature. First results show a significant drop in fraud rates across SCA transactions — partially making up for the decline in conversion rates that are a direct consequence of the legislation. We know that there are opportunities for whomever solves most elegantly for the structural impact SCA will have on conversion rates and the industry more widely, and therefore continue to see this as a positive.


Growing the team to capitalize on long-term opportunities

We added 207 FTE in the first half of the year, with the Adyen team totaling 1,954 FTE at the end of H1 2021. We continued to apply a merchant-centered approach to our hiring strategy, which is reflected in new hires being predominantly in tech (47%) and commercial (40%) roles.We are growing the team to facilitate for long-term growth, and believe scaling our culture is key to successful execution. Senior management continued to dedicate significant time to the hiring process and, now virtually, meet every new hire before joining the team. That being said, we look forward to further grow the team at speed and capitalize on the substantial opportunity we view ahead.

Our talent is key to our growth. To reach the team’s full potential, we foster an entrepreneurial culture and promote internally by design. A natural consequence is that our talent grows at the same pace as the business does. We are proud to see how this approach has resulted in a deep bench, to which senior management appointments over the past years are a testament.  

The COVID-19 pandemic taught us that an online environment works well from an efficiency perspective, but that the creativity is sparked during in- office interactions is hard to fully replicate via video conferencing. To foster the creativity and straightforward, no-nonsense approach that brought us to where we are today, we continue to invest in attractive workspaces for the team. We have always been flexible in dealing with personal circumstances, and will maintain that approach. Keeping our strong company culture will set our course when navigating this uncharted territory.

North America
Latin America
Middle East

Making good choices to build an ethical business

The principles of the Adyen Formula have guided the way we work as a team since we founded the company. One of our Formula points is about making good choices to build an ethical business. Since IPO, we have kept you informed about the company’s progress via these bi-annual shareholder letters and annual reports. Following constructive conversations with a broad range of stakeholders, and conscious of its importance, we have drawn up the Adyen way of building an ethical business. The document explains what making good choices means, and we will make a point to keep you well-informed as the business grows. You can read the document here

Another development in the realm of ESG is the expansion of our Impact product suite with Restore. Just like our donation feature Giving, Restore is a natural extension of the payment chain — now enabling our merchants’ shoppers to offset the carbon footprint of their purchases at the end of the checkout process by funding environmental sustainability projects.

Figure 2

Figure 2

Net revenue per region (in EUR millions). Comparative figures were restated on account of correction of error reported in the 2020 annual and H2 2020 interim condensed consolidated financial statements.

Discussion of financial results

Strong processed volume growth from merchants already on the platform

Processed volume for the period was €216.0 billion, up 67% year-on-year. In line with previous periods, most of our volume growth came from merchants that were already on the platform. 

H1 2021 POS volume was €22.8 billion, making up 11% of total processed volume. Despite global lockdowns impacting growth in the in-store segment, POS volume doubled in absolute numbers year-on-year — underscoring the strength of the offering. 

Net revenue reflecting success with existing merchants and increased regional diversification

Following continued success in the execution of our land-and-expand strategy, net revenue was €445.0 million [3], up 46% year-on-year from €304.8 million in H1 2020 [4].

A natural consequence of our strategy is how take rate evolved during the period. H1 2021 take rate was 20.6 bps, compared to 23.6 bps in H1 2020. This difference is mainly due to our tiered pricing strategy paired with growth from enterprise merchants — including platforms — already onboarded in previous periods, and an increase in like-for-like settled volume (i.e. without the need for currency exchange) as we build out the offering to best service our merchants’ needs. 

We continue to see take rate as an outcome, and not a driver of our business, as the scalability and low cost of operating our single platform allow for a focus on incremental net revenue. 

In line with previous periods, net revenue contribution continued to diversify across regions — and our merchant base — in the first half. Europe accounted for 60% of net revenues, followed by North America (22%), APAC (9%) and LATAM (8%). 

Year-on-year net revenue growth accelerated in all regions. Most noteworthy, North American net revenue growth was 80%, and outpaced APAC (44%), Europe (40%), and LATAM (26%).

Investing in Adyen for the long term — from home for now

Total operating expenses were €188.8 million for the period, up 24% year-on-year. These represent 42% of net revenue, compared to 50% in H1 2020. This delta is mainly due to our strong net revenue growth combined with lower travel and marketing costs, i.e. fewer in-person events and outdoor advertising, as a natural result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Employee benefits were €119.0 million for H1 2021, up 36% year-on-year. As we continue to build Adyen for the long term, we believe our strong company culture is key to successful execution. Therefore, we only hire up to absorption rate. We saw this impacted by the pandemic, as welcoming new team members into the Adyen culture naturally takes more time from a distance. 

Other operating expenses totaled €53.3 million, up 3% from H1 2020. Of these, sales and marketing expenses were €17.2 million, down 20% year-on-year. 

EBITDA displaying continued strong operating leverage

EBITDA was €272.7 million in H1 2021, up 65% from €165.7 million in H1 2020. This increase comes on the back of our strong net revenue growth paired with the operational scalability of the single platform. EBITDA margin was 61% for the period, up from 54% in H1 2020.

High net income growth 

Net income for the first half of 2021 was €204.8 million, up 109% year-on-year from €97.9 million in H1 2020. This delta is driven by net revenue growth, the low cost base of operating the single platform, and other financial results being impacted by the Adyen share price and currency exchange. 

CapEx reflecting investments in the single platform

CapEx were 5% of net revenue, up from 2% in H1 2020. H1 2021 CapEx spend reflects our continuous focus on the scalability of our tech stack and global presence, as we are building this company to best service our merchants. 

Robust free cash flow conversion 

Free cash flow was €246.4 million, up 60% year-on-year from €154.2 million in H1 2020. 

Free cash flow conversion ratio [5] was 90% in the first half of 2021, down from 93% in H1 2020. This decrease was mainly driven by the increase in CapEx.

[3] On a constant currency basis, net revenue of €445.0 million would have been 7% higher than reported. Please refer to Note 1 of the Interim Condensed Consolidated Financial Statements for further detail on revenue breakdown.

[4] Please refer to the Interim Condensed Consolidated Financial Statements for further detail on our historically restated figures.

[5] ((EBITDA-CapEx-Lease payments)/EBITDA)

Figure 3

All amounts in EUR thousands unless otherwise stated

Financial objectives

We have set the following financial objectives, wherein EBITDA margin guidance has been updated in February this year. Other objectives remain unchanged since IPO. 

Net revenue growth: We aim to continue to grow net revenue and achieve a CAGR between the mid-twenties and low-thirties in the medium term by executing our sales strategy. 

EBITDA margin: We aim to improve EBITDA margin, and expect this margin to benefit from our operational leverage going forward and increase to levels above 65% in the long term. 

Capital expenditure: We aim to maintain a sustainable capital expenditure level of up to 5% of our net revenue. 

We will host our earnings videoconference at 3pm CEST (9am ET) today (August 19) to discuss these results. 

To watch the livestream, please visit our Investor Relations page. A recording will be available on the website following the call. 

As an appendix to this letter you will find three highlight pages of our growth pillars (Enterprise, Unified Commerce, and Mid Market) and our H1 2021 financial statements attached. 


Pieter van der Does


Ingo Uytdehaage



The enterprise segment continues to drive the largest share of our growth. By building trusted partnerships with these merchants, we are consistently able to win additional volume through implementing new sales channels, geographies, and product lines with them. We see this is a consequence of our product development strategy – driven directly by merchant needs.

Figure 4

Figure 4

Enterprise volume in EUR billions.

SHEIN logoNivea logoBrooklyn Fitboxing logoPark Hotel Group logoGorillas logoAirbnb logoRun SignupCloudbeds logo

Unified Commerce

As shopper preferences continue to shift towards a unified experience, a multi-channel strategy is becoming business critical for businesses globally. By integrating the online and offline channels in a single platform, we’re at the forefront of the new era of commerce with our unified commerce solution. 

Figure 5

Figure 5

POS volume evolution, including share of total processed volume in EUR billions

The Body Shop logoLVMH logoAmerican Eagle logoRavensburger logoNandos logoEfteling logoRoller logoSlice logo


In mid-market, we build to offer the full strength of the Adyen solution to merchants of all sizes via simplified integrations. Our value proposition to these merchants is grounded in our ability to future-proof their payments set-up via simplified access to the single platform, which leaves space to focus on growing their business.

Figure 6

Figure 6

Mid-market volume in EUR billions. We define mid-market merchants as merchants processing up to €25 million annually on our platform. In H1 2021, 4,278 merchants met this definition.

Pig Hen logoPierre Marcolini logoOka logoDedoles logoJerome Dreyfuss logoPoppy logoFuton Company logoShopfitting Warehouse logo

Interim Condensed Consolidated Financial Statements

This page contains information that qualifies, or may qualify, as inside information within the meaning of Article 7(1) of the EU Market Abuse Regulation.

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