H2 2021

Shareholder letter

Shareholder Letter H2 2021

* Comparative figures have been restated on account of our previously disclosed accounting adjustment. Refer to our annual consolidated financial statements of 2020 for details on the correction.

Strong growth across regions

  • Share of net revenue from regions outside of EMEA was  over 40% for the first time in Adyen's history

  • Continued investment in the global team, offices, and  payment method connections to bolster this growth

  • North America net revenues grew 74% in 2021 – an  acceleration off a broader base

Expansion in product-market fit for the business

  • The institutionalization of digital transformation has  shifted merchant priorities

  • Platforms increasingly omnipresent across regions

  • Proliferation of new payment methods and tools has led to democratization of access to digital economies

Continued evolution of product suite

  • Merchant demand continues to drive our product  development objectives

  • We built Score to combat the multi-sided fraud problem faced by platforms

  • A new range of handheld Android terminals help  merchants run a lean in-store set-up

Hiring with sustainable growth in mind

  • The team now comprises 2,180 FTE across 27 offices  around the world

  • Investments in wellbeing initiatives to help alleviate the  impact of lockdown- and travel restrictions

  • We would have liked to hire more in 2021, and have  plans to ramp up hiring this year

New horizons for an increasingly global Adyen

February 9, 2022

Dear shareholders,

The results for the past half year were strong, and the indicators of sustainable profitable growth remain intact. Having achieved new milestones of scale in 2021, our view of the prospects of our business are as strong as ever.

In the second half of 2021 we processed €300.0 billion for our merchants, up 72% year-on-year, with net revenues of €556.5 million, up 47% year-on-year. Combined with our first half numbers, this has led to strong results for the full year: 2021 processed volume surpassed the half-a-trillion threshold at €516.0 billion. Net revenues for the year were over €1.0 billion, and 2021 EBITDA margin was 63%.

As in previous periods, the results were bolstered by the unrelenting rise of online commerce globally, and an increasing need for merchants to implement unified commerce shopper journeys. These are further supported by the progressive disappearance of cash, and the democratization of access to global economies through digital tools and payment methods.

The increasing pervasiveness of unified commerce shopper journeys is reflected in the 97% year-on-year growth of point-of-sale (POS) volumes on our platform in H2 2021. These totaled €41.8 billion and comprised 14% of total processed volumes. This growth is a continuation of a longer-term trend, as POS growth has outpaced the growth of online volumes since we’ve begun reporting on these metrics, with lockdown-dominated 2020 as the lone exception.

We’ve always taken a long-term view of the business. This has been true since the foundation of the company. Still, as we operate a culture where our day-to-day focus is primarily on our merchants’ growth, and on continuously solving shorter-term problems, it's humbling to take stock of the scale at which we now operate – without having had the need to alter the way in which we work together.

This scale does not change our priorities. We will continue to follow the same course, in an industry buoyed by many long-term tailwinds. We will continue to invest in the team, in the product, and in the scalability of our operations. A noteworthy once-off investment was made in the expansion of our Amsterdam offices, resulting in a €7.7 million expense that pushed our CapEx to 6% of net revenues in the second half. Full year CapEx was 5% of net revenues.

The area in which we’ve arguably evolved the most as a business recently is in platforms. These platforms operate across a wide range of verticals and offer turnkey solutions to smaller businesses. As we can offer the leading onboarding, pay-in and pay-out solution to these platforms across regions and channels, we’re now increasingly able to help businesses of all sizes grow.

When it comes to building Adyen for the long term, it’s not just about market shifts and merchant needs. Operationally, it’s essential that we identify bottlenecks for future growth in order to sustain and accelerate from our current pace. One of these potential bottlenecks is in the hiring of  talent. Macro conditions (e.g. the war on talent) and a refusal to lower the bar for new hires in order to achieve scale in the form of quick additions has resulted in a growth of 226 FTE during the period. We don’t believe it’s in our interest to mortgage the long-term for short-term gains in FTE count.

That said, all things being equal, we would have liked to hire more during the period. Accordingly, we’ve invested in our recruitment infrastructure and in two new tech hubs to help ramp up hiring during 2022. These tech hubs – one in Chicago and one in Madrid – should provide us with increased global coverage and scale as we build out a technical organization that has historically operated primarily out of Amsterdam. On December 31, 2021, the Adyen team totaled 2,180 FTE. 

On the aforementioned indicators of sustainable growth – in line with previous periods, more than 80% of our growth came from existing merchants, volume churn was minimal at <1%, and net revenue concentration during the period decreased.

The metric perhaps worth celebrating even more than the previously discussed volumes and net revenues, is the fact that the share of regions outside EMEA was above 40% for the first time since we started reporting these splits. We view the continued regional diversification of Adyen’s net revenues as a great positive for the continued growth of the business.


Full-stack volume[1] was 81% for the second half and 82% for the full year. On take rate – in line with previous periods we saw a decline in take rate, now at 18.6 bps for the second half of 2021 and 19.4 bps for the full year. The gradual decline in take rate illustrated below is a natural consequence of our business model and the execution of our strategy of onboarding profitable volume at scale – which has always predominantly come from enterprise merchants. A more minor but still relevant contributor to lower take rates is a rising average transaction value (ATV), as illustrated below. This is a result of an evolution in our merchant mix, and an increased exposure to retail.

Figure 1

Figure 1

Take rate evolution since H2 2020 (bps)

Figure 2

Figure 2

ATV evolution since H2 2020 (in EUR)

EBITDA margin displays an increase in profitability despite continued investment in the business (as illustrated by significant OpEx and CapEx during the period). This trend underscores the operating leverage inherent to our platform. EBITDA margin for the second half came in at 64%, compared to 62% for H2 2020, and 61% for H1 2021. 

We have endeavoured in these letters and through other methods of investor outreach to provide you with the necessary context on what we mean when we say that our focus during the pandemic has been, as it was prior to the pandemic, on the day-to-day realities of our merchants around the world. Having shown over the past periods that the business is resilient despite volumes fluctuating between industries due to lockdown restrictions, we want to take the opportunity to deepen the context by providing a regional view of what the pandemic has meant for our merchants’ realities across the globe since its onset in Q1 2020. As much commentary has been provided by us from a global perspective, we’ve asked Adyen’s regional presidents for more granular insight below.

Figure 3

Figure 3

Net revenue per region (in EUR millions)

Warren Hayashi, APAC

APAC is perhaps the most fragmented region globally when it comes to market maturity and payment method mix, but we're now seeing signs of convergence through digitalization. This is happening everywhere. Payment cultures are turning digital, allowing us to help our merchants expand across the region quicker than ever before. As this trend has allowed merchants to look beyond their own borders more easily, we’ve become a very logical partner.

On the payment method front, we’ve seen an acceleration in the rise of non-card options. In an environment where online commerce spiked, these payment methods proved to be a good option in getting first-time online buyers and the underbanked online quickly. BNPL (buy now, pay later) options are springing up across the region, and easy-access payment methods are seeing huge local success – like GrabPay and GoPay.

We’re seeing an unprecedented transformation in commerce across the region. This is most apparent in the significant change to what stores and retail interactions look like today. Self-checkout has become ubiquitous and delivery is increasingly a daily interaction. These changes to retail seem permanent. The better shopper experience and the lower operational costs of self-checkout in an era of labor shortage make these very attractive for merchants.

This innovation in the space is not slowing down, and our quick time to market should allow us to be there at the forefront. There is permanence in changes to other industries too. In-app payments in airlines and contactless check-in and check-out processes in hotels. It’s hard to imagine these going away.

logo - OnePlusMonotaro logoToysRUs logo

Alexa von Bismarck, EMEA

Initially, the impact of COVID on merchants was dramatic. However, it has since proven to be a chance for businesses to build more robust foundations. Changing market conditions have accelerated digitalization. This has resulted in businesses now planning for resilience. We’re also seeing that the companies we helped during the early stages of the pandemic – supporting them through difficult times – are now powering a significant portion of our growth in the region. These enduring partnerships are definitely paying off.

In many urban spaces we’re seeing the rise of ultra-fast delivery services, bringing smaller goods from local stores to consumers almost instantly. There is a boost for the fast and no or low-touch ways to pay, and with that contactless payments have surged across Europe. Moreover, autonomous store concepts are increasingly popping up – allowing for a checkout-free shopping experience. For all these different environments and scenarios, our speed to market and technology are key assets.

Over the past two years overall, we’ve seen digital and online commerce become more dominant, as well as a heavy decline in the use of cash – especially in traditionally cash-dominant markets like Germany. The landscape is further completed by the increasing relevance of unified commerce and the rise of the platforms at the forefront of these shifts in consumer preferences. This has widened our natural customer fit from digital native companies to a much larger group of business types and industries.

The rise of new payment methods like BNPL, changing shopper demands and movements in the regulatory landscape have further complicated an already complex landscape. As we’ve seen before with previous shifts – where industries change, we’re able to help.

Monoprix logoMews logoLeon logo

Select merchant wins from the region.


Davi Strazza, Latin America

COVID has definitely accelerated the shift toward online commerce that was already happening – we saw a lot of first-time online shoppers since the start of the pandemic. Debit cards, the point-of-entry for most consumers going online in Brazil, saw a big spike. Government credits, too, were made available on this payment method.

This digitalization has resulted in new payment methods rapidly gaining share. Pix, a bank-to-bank payment method created by the Central Bank of Brazil, is one example of a new option taking share from traditionally dominated payment methods like Boleto – and doing so extremely quickly. We were able to help our merchants through this shift by immediately implementing these new payment methods. Our speed here and continued investment in the region has resulted in us now increasingly being able to land local brands.

Alongside the shift to online traffic, we saw a substantial increase in contactless transactions. Industries were quickly disrupted due to the increased need for contactless shopper journeys and delivery options.

At a macro level, Mexico is seeing the same trend as the rest of the region, with millions of consumers buying online for the first time – this has made delivery a hugely popular option across verticals. We currently have a leading position in this shift – as we've partnered with the merchants at the vanguard of this change.

These trends across Latin America are permanent. Consumers won’t go back to the legacy payment methods and journeys. Like in any environment of disruption, our rapid rate of innovation helps position us as the logical partner for merchants and payment methods leading the way.

 Farmacias del Ahorro logoReservamos logoMcDonalds logo

Select merchant wins from the region.


Brian Dammeir, North America

Initially when the pandemic hit, businesses whose existence was threatened were quickest to adapt and our focus was on helping them weather the storm. This was most true for businesses in retail and food and beverage. We saw delivery, contactless and online commerce, and curbside pickup spring up at scale across this group of merchants.

Now, as we exit the reaction phase of COVID, we’re seeing a second wave of innovation as merchants across other verticals – e.g. hospitality, large-format retail, leisure – are increasingly aware of the impact of consumer preference shifts. This has sparked a profound digital transformation across these industries as well as those first impacted by COVID. The mandate from boardrooms is clear – and we now see our customers structurally changing their businesses and technology stacks to embrace unified commerce and this newfound urgency for digital transformation. This shift was already happening, but has been accelerated drastically due to COVID. We're meeting the moment for these customers as financial technology is a core piece of any transformation strategy fit for this age. Our newly acquired federal branch license should help us be able to fully meet these merchants' needs.

It’s also worth touching on the increasing universality of SaaS platforms. These platforms tend to focus on a particular vertical, providing turnkey solutions and allowing smaller business owners to stay at the forefront of innovation. As transformation continues in the coming years we expect many more of these players to come into the market and have Adyen be their solution of choice. The end result is that we're powering transformation across all size segments – from enterprise directly to the smallest sellers via platforms.


Consistent trends in a changing world

Consistent with historical trends, enterprise merchants onboarded in previous periods continued to drive the majority of volume growth in the second half of the year. We're able to consistently win additional volume across our merchant base through the successful execution of our strategy – building long-lasting partnerships with leading brands. Once merchants are onboarded, they're able to expand globally and across sales channels effortlessly. Moreover, they have the peace of mind that comes with our promise of a subscription to innovation – ensuring that they’re ahead of any would-be fraudster, regulatory shift, or change in payment method mix. This subscription to innovation is critical in an environment where digital transformation is now increasingly becoming institutionalized. 

As outlined in the regional commentary, offering unified commerce shopper journeys has become essential for merchants. It’s the unified commerce native businesses, and those quickest to adapt, that have lasted and been successful through the pandemic. We’re able to effectively provide more businesses with access to our leading unified commerce solution than ever before – through platforms and partnerships.

Initially for platforms, we were primarily an online partner. Today, our unified commerce solution for platforms is one of our major differentiators. This allows sellers on the platforms we partner with to offer their buyers unified commerce journeys of the same quality as leading enterprise businesses around the world. There is more room to grow here, as these platforms are constantly looking to deepen their relationships with the sellers on their platforms.

Specifically for the mid-market, we’ve continued to invest in partnerships and platforms in order to guarantee that we build to benefit all merchants. To this end, we launched our partner portal during the period – streamlining the referral process for businesses and partners alike. Our commitments to improved merchant education and onboarding experiences are helping to ensure that the platform is increasingly accessible and intuitive to merchants of all sizes.

Flink logoTrade Republic logoZabka logoMoncler logoDesigual logoGlobo logo

Select merchant wins from the period.


Products built for tomorrow's economies

We continue to work co-creatively with our merchants in our product development. The pandemic has not changed this. Similarly, our annual plans are set in a bottom-up manner based on merchants’ needs. This merchant-centered approach – central to our strategy – has allowed us to react quickly to shifts in the industry and in merchant expectations. 

An example of the efficacy of this approach is the launch of the smaller handheld range of all-in-one Android POS devices, allowing merchants to quickly launch in-store payments without the need for separate cash registers. Not only do these terminals help lower the barrier to launching an in-store channel – they also provide merchants with the option of running an increasingly light, unburdened set-up. This is a space that has evolved drastically over the past decade.

When it comes to the platform businesses that we discussed earlier in this letter, one aspect that is often less highlighted is fraud – which becomes exponentially more complex here when compared to traditional enterprise business. In enterprise, buyer-side fraud is the main issue, which is an area in which  tooling is more developed. In platforms, you’re dealing with a new problem: multi-sided fraud. There are many buyers and sellers on these platforms, and both numbers are constantly growing. The business that runs the platform is not a party in these buyer-seller transactions, it orchestrates and facilitates the interaction – that’s inherent to the business model.

However, the business does run the financial and reputational risk of any malicious behavior that takes place on their platform. This reality is why we launched Score, which employs network analysis and machine learning to work continuously to spot multi-sided fraud. First of its kind, it allows merchants to achieve huge efficiencies in their compliance operations while remaining in control. In an environment where compliance is often viewed as a cost center, these efficiencies and the boost to loss prevention makes this an especially attractive proposition. Due to Score and other investments in our capabilities to help platforms deepen relationships with their merchants, we’re bullish on our prospects in this space. 

Investing in the continued growth of the company

We opened one new office in the second half of 2021 – in Malaysia – while investing significantly in another, on Rokin in Amsterdam. Hiring for the period continued to be primarily in tech and commercial functions. We were able to add 226 FTE to the team during the second half of the year. The team totalled 2,180 FTE at the end of the period, up from 1,954 FTE at the end of June, and 1,747 FTE end of year 2020. We continue to pursue a hiring strategy of sustainable growth at scale, keeping our rate of absorption in mind. While keeping the bar high for talent joining the team, we do hope to ramp up hiring in 2022 as outlined previously.

We began this letter by noting the scale at which we now find ourselves. We’re seeing very solid traction in the verticals and regions in which we now operate, and the business is profitable and growing at a great pace – testament to the extraordinary work put in by the team.

As our merchant base develops and evolves, we're seeing the need for more products built with technology at their core. Digitalization is now increasingly at the center of strategy-setting for business across verticals, and we're positioned to continue to be the leading partner for growth in this new age.

We look forward to expanding on these additional merchant needs and where we plan to focus our resources in the coming years at our upcoming Capital Markets Day. We do hope to see you there, albeit virtually.


Discussion of financial results

Processed volume for the second half of 2021 was €300.0 billion, up 72% year-on-year. For the full year, processed volume was €516.0 billion, up 70% compared to €303.6 billion in 2020.

Of these volumes, POS accounted for 14% – totaling €41.8 billion. This is up 97% year-on-year as we continue to scale our capabilities in this space.

Net revenues were €556.5 million2 for the period, up 47% year-on-year. As mentioned, net revenue contribution from non-EMEA regions came in at over 40% for the first time since we started reporting these splits. The regional diversification of our net revenues is evidence of the success of our global approach. 

Net revenues for the full year were €1.0 billion, up 46% year-on-year. These were accompanied by a full year take rate for 2021 of 19.4 bps. 

Operating expenses for H2 2021 came in at €218.0 million, up 38% year-on-year and comprising 39% of net revenues. The largest contributor to these were employee benefits – which totaled €121.5 million, growing 31% year-on-year. It is our intention to ramp up hiring during the following periods. Of the other operating expenses, sales and marketing expenses were €19.1 million, up 5% year-on-year as our event marketing operations especially are still hampered by lockdown restrictions around the world. 

Included in the operating expenses is a €13.0 million one-off operational loss arising from a difference in currency rates in the Lebanese Pound: merchant funds were settled to Adyen at a rate requested from the schemes to be used by the Lebanese central bank, while funds were still being paid out to the merchants at the official exchange rate. 

Full year OpEx of €406.8 million was up 31% year-on-year.

The operational leverage inherent to our business model and platform was illustrated by the 64% EBITDA margin for the period. For the full year, this number was 63%.

H2 2021 EBITDA was €357.3 million, up 51% year-on-year. Full year EBITDA was €630.0 million for 2021, up 57% year-on-year.

Net income was €264.9 million for the second half of the year, up 62% year-on-year.

CapEx were €32.6 million for the period, as we dealt with a significant one-off in the investment in new offices in Amsterdam. Consequently, CapEx was 6% of net revenues. Without this one-off, CapEx would have come in under 5% of net revenues. 

H2 2021 free cash flow was €320.2 million, up 48% year-on-year. Free cash flow conversion ratio was 90%.

2 On a constant currency basis, net revenue of €556.5 million would have been 4% lower than reported. Please refer to Note 1 of the interim condensed consolidated financial statements for further detail on revenue breakdown.

Adyen shareholder letter H2 2021

Figure 5

All amounts in EUR thousands unless otherwise stated

Financial objectives

We've not seen any developments in the business over the second half of 2021 that would lead us to updating our guidance. Therefore, the financial objectives below remain unchanged from the last time we published results.

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 a video call at 3 PM CET (15.00) this afternoon to discuss these results. To watch the live stream, please visit our Investor Relations page. A recording will be made available on the same page following the call. 


P.W. van der Does


I.J. 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 as a result of our product development strategy — driven directly by merchant needs.

Figure 6

Figure 6

Enterprise volume in EUR billions.

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 are at the forefront of the new era of commerce with our unified commerce solution.

Figure 7

Figure 7

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

Mid Market

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 through access to the single platform, which leaves space to focus on growing their business.

Figure 8

Figure 8

Mid-market volume in EUR billions. We define mid-market merchants as merchants processing up to €25 million annually on our platform. In H2 2021, 4,910 merchants met this definition.

Interim Condensed Consolidated Financial Statements
H2 2021 Adyen N.V

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