They were little known before the pandemic, but startups in the flourishing digital payment industry are now worth a fortune as Covid-19 has forced people to increasingly embrace e-commerce. Online shopping, contactless card readers and mobile payments are nothing new, but lockdowns and fears of contagion changed consumer behaviour during the coronavirus crisis. “2020 considerably accelerated the shift in consumer preferences to electronic payments and online shopping,” said Marc-Henri Desportes, deputy CEO of Worldline, a French payment and transactions processing firm. A trio of startups — Stripe, SumUp and Pledg — have benefited from the shift. Founded by two Irish brothers in 2011, Stripe catapulted to the forefront of the industry after its valuation soared to $95 billion in the past week, nearly tripling since last year. However, it still has a long way to catch up to the likes of Mastercard, valued above $300 billion. The California-based payments processing firm reached its new valuation after raising $600 million in funding from investors last weekend. On Tuesday, the British startup SumUp, which provides card payment terminals and online services, raised 750 million euros in funding. On the same day, the Paris-based startup Pledg, which specialises in installment payment services, raised 80 million euros. “We’ve done in one year a transformation which would in normal times take three or five years,” said Desportes. PayPal and We Chat According a study by the consulting firm Accenture published last year, global payments revenue may rise by $500 billion over the coming years to hit $2 trillion in 2025.