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GreekReporter.comBusinessGreece’s First FinTech Unicorn Viva Wallet Sues JPMorgan

Greece’s First FinTech Unicorn Viva Wallet Sues JPMorgan

Viva Wallet JPMorgan
Top of JPMorgan Chase Tower, Dallas, Texas, U.S. Credit: Joe Mabel, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0

The founder and chief executive of Greek financial technology company Viva Wallet has launched legal proceedings against JPMorgan, the US bank that co-owns the company, over tactics to limit its growth, according to legal documents revealed on Thursday by the Financial Times.

Haris Karonis, who founded the Greek payments company in 2000, said he believes JPMorgan is trying to reduce the valuation of his business by blocking its entry into the US and most European markets, with the ultimate goal of buying out the stake it does not have at a lower price. The bank controls 48.5 percent of Viva.

Karonis also accuses the Wall Street-listed bank of hindering Viva’s growth by allowing JPMorgan’s own payments business to compete with the Greek firm’s technology in some European markets, the Financial Times says.

Under the terms of JPMorgan’s investment in Viva, the bank can take full control of the financial technology (fintech) if it is valued below €5bn in June 2025. The bank claims the company’s current value does not exceed 1 billion euros.

JPMorgan has countersued Karonis over moves that the bank says are intended to “limit or circumvent our contractual and statutory rights as an investor,” according to the paper. Both legal claims were filed at the High Court in London on Wednesday.

JPMorgan and WRL, Karonis’ holding company, have reached an impasse over how to value Viva and are asking the High Court to resolve the dispute.

“This lawsuit was filed after all other options had been exhausted,” JPMorgan said of its claim against WRL.

“Despite this controversy, we believe in Viva Wallet, its people, our strategic investment in the company and our broader investment in Greece,” it added according to the Financial Times.

The evolution of Viva Wallet and the clash with JPMorgan

Since its founding in 2000, Viva has grown to become one of the largest fintechs in southern Europe, offering payment services in 24 countries.

In 2020, it obtained a banking license after buying the Greek digital bank Praxia. JPMorgan invested €800m in Viva in 2021 to secure a 48.5 percent stake as part of a much-hyped push into the European payments market.

The legal dispute between JPMorgan and Viva is a setback in the efforts of Greece to attract foreign investment in the country.

When the deal was announced Greece’s PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis congratulated the staff of Viva Wallet and said that the investment is “a vote of confidence in the company and Greece.

“I consider this investment a very significant vote of confidence in the company but also in the potential of the country. I am particularly glad that innovative Greek companies can distinguish themselves.

“Greece is not just a country that supports itself through tourism and its wonderful beaches but also has human resources in the technology sector which make us optimistic that technology will make up an ever-increasing part of the country’s GDP,” the prime minister said.

The legal battle between JPMorgan and Karonis is the latest the bank has with the founder of a business it has invested in, having distributed billions of dollars to more than 40 fintech companies since 2021, the British paper says.

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