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The End of Klarna’s Easy Money Is Bad News for BNPL

The End of Klarna’s Easy Money Is Bad News for BNPL

Sebastian Siemiatkowski, the cofounder and CEO of Klarna, looks slightly frayed down the barrel of his webcam as he explains over Google Meet why everything is fine at the fintech despite increasingly frenzied warnings of a looming recession.

Klarna is a European heavyweight, currently the bloc’s most valuable private tech company. Since launching in 2005, the Swedish unicorn has become synonymous with “buy now, pay later” (BNPL), a type of debt popular among Generation Z that enables shoppers to split the cost of their online purchases over several months. The company claims it has 147 million active users across 45 countries.

But Klarna’s dream—to replace credit cards, which Siemiatkowski describes as “the worst form of credit”—is facing a series of existential threats. The company’s workforce is still reeling from layoffs that affected 10 percent of its staff and new regulation which will impose stricter rules on BNPL providers in the UK, one of its key markets. At the same time, BNPL executives told WIRED that investors are losing faith in the sector in the face of a potential recession. “BNPL is relatively new. They want to understand how we’re able to weather that storm,” says Libor Michalek, chief technology officer at another BNPL provider, Affirm. On June 16, The Wall Street Journal reported that Klarna was trying to raise money based on a $15 billion valuation, which would mean it believes the business is worth $30 billion less than last year. Klarna declined to comment on what it called “speculation.”

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Siemiatkowski credits changing investor sentiment for the turbulence and a new strategy which will curb its plans to grow. “Six to nine months ago, investors were like, ‘growth is the only thing that matters, just focus on that,”…

Read full article on www.wired.com