LONDON — Highly-valued Swedish fintech business Klarna has bought German startup BillPay from UK payday lender Wonga.
Berlin-headquartered BillPay, founded in 2009 and acquired by Wonga in 2013, offers online payment technology, letting shoppers pay in instalments and direct debits. It works with 5,000 retailers and has been used by 12 million customers. It was acquired by British payday lender Wonga as part of its efforts to diversify amid pressure from the UK regulator.
Klarna, founded in 2005 in Stockholm, offers similar technology to BillPay, letting online shoppers “buy now and pay later.” Klarna says in a release announcing the acquisition that the deal “strengthen[s] its position as one of the leading payment providers in Europe and accelerates its growth in the region.”
No price is given for the deal but Sky News reports that Klarna is paying around £60 million ($74.7 million) for BillPay, which has 140 employees.
Klarna CEO Sebastian Siemiatkowski says in a release announcing the deal: “We are excited to be working with BillPay and their talented team in Berlin. By combining our skills and expertise, and leveraging BillPay’s deep market knowledge, product features and consumer offering, we are confident that we can offer even more innovative payment services to our customers.
“Germany is one of the largest e-commerce markets in the world, and we are delighted to have strengthened our position here with this acquisition.”
Klarna is one of Europe’s most valuable private businesses, valued at $2.25 billion (£1.9 billion) in its last funding round a year and a half ago. That makes the company one of Europe’s few “unicorns” — a private tech company valued at over $1 billion. Backers include renowned Silicon Valley venture capital firm Sequoia Capital.
Klarna works with 65,000 merchants across 18 countries and reaches 45 million customers across all its markets. The company is currently in the midst of a major push into the US and UK.
BillPay CEO Nelson Holzner says in the release announcing the deal: “We are thrilled to join the Klarna team. Together we will have a market leading position in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, and will be able to offer our merchants and users highly attractive payment options in more international markets in an ever-increasing cross-border e-commerce environment.”
Wonga has been offloading and slimming down its business ever since new management came in to the controversial company in 2014. It came as the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) forced the short-term, high-interest lender to write-off over £200 million of loans to customers for failing to check affordability adequately. The FCA has also capped interest rates in the sector, pushing 1,400 payday lenders out of business and pushing Wonga to a loss of £80 million in 2015.
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