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Photo Illustration: Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The U.S. Justice Department on Thursday sued to block Visa's proposed $5.3 billion purchase of Plaid, a San Francisco-based provider of analytics software for accessing transaction data.

The bottom line: Plaid lets fintech startups connect to users' bank accounts, but the DOJ argues that the merger would eliminate Plaid's potential ability to compete in the online debit market, thus giving Visa a monopoly. Visa told WSJ it plans to "defend the transaction vigorously.”

Background: Plaid was founded in 2013, and is sometimes referred to as the fintech market's "plumbing" — kind of like Stripe, but a bit further down the payments infrastructure stack.

  • The company raised more than $300 million in VC funding, most recently at a $2.3 billion post-money valuation in late 2018.
  • Investors include Spark Capital, NEA, Kleiner Perkins Growth, NEA, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Index Ventures, and Andreessen Horowitz, Visa and MasterCard.
  • The $5.3 billion sale price is said to include around $400 million tied to retention bonuses and other Plaid employee compensation.
  • There were other bidders for Plaid, in addition to Visa, in part because there aren't really any other companies of the necessary scale that could serve as a viable Plan B.

A Plaid spokesperson declined comment.

Go deeper

Visa and Plaid terminate merger agreement

A Visa card. Photo: Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Visa has terminated its proposed $5.3 billion purchase of Plaid, a San Francisco-based provider of analytics software that connects fintech startups to users' bank accounts, the Justice Department said in a statement.

Why it matters: The DOJ alleged in its civil antitrust lawsuit filed in November to block the merger that Visa is a "monopolist in online debit" and would eliminate Plaid's potential ability to compete in the online debit market.

Updated 3 mins ago - Sports

Olympics dashboard

Katie Ledecky celebrates with teammate Erica Sullivan after winning the women’s 1500m freestyle final. Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images

🚨: Katie Ledecky wins gold in first women's 1500m freestyle

🤸🏾‍♀️: Simone Biles pulls out of gymnastics team finals, citing her mental health

🎾: "This one sucks more than the others," Naomi Osaka says on upset loss

⚽️: USA women's soccer ties Australia, propelling them to the quarterfinals

🏊‍♀️: Teen swimmer Lydia Jacoby wins first U.S. women's Tokyo Games gold

👟: World Athletics president supports reviewing marijuana rules in doping

🏄‍♀️: American Carissa Moore wins first-ever women's Olympic gold in surfing

Go deeper: Full Axios coverage - Medal tracker

14 mins ago - Sports

Katie Ledecky wins gold in first women's 1500m freestyle

Katie Ledecky at the Tokyo Games. Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Katie Ledecky took home the gold medal in the women's 1,500-meter freestyle swimming race Tuesday evening, becoming the first female swimmer to win the newly added division. Team USA's Erica Sullivan won silver.

Driving the news: The long-distance 1,500m race has traditionally only been available to men at the Olympics, and the Tokyo Games mark the first time that it has been open to women.