Shares of Square are up this morning after the company announced its second-quarter earnings and that it will buy Afterpay, an Australian buy now, pay later (BNPL) player in a $29 billion deal. As TechCrunch reported this morning, Afterpay shareholders will receive 0.375 shares of Square in exchange for their existing equity.
Shares of Afterpay are sharply higher after the deal was announced thanks to its implied premium, while shares of Square are up 7% in early-morning trading.
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Over the past year, we’ve written extensively about the BNPL market, usually from the perspective of earnings from companies in the space. Afterpay has been a key data source, along with the yet-private Klarna and U.S. public BNPL outfit Affirm. Recall that each company has posted strong growth in recent periods, with the United States arising as a prime competitive market.
Most recently, consumer hardware and services giant Apple is reportedly preparing a move into the BNPL space. Our read at the time was that any such movement by Cupertino would impact mass-market BNPL players more than niche-focused companies. Apple has a fintech base and broad IRL payment acceptance, making it a potentially strong competitor for BNPL services aimed at consumers; BNPL services targeted at particular industries or niches would likely see less competition from Apple.
From that landscape, let’s explore the Square-Afterpay deal. We want to know what Afterpay brings to Square in terms of revenue, growth and reach. We also want to do some math on the price Square is willing to pay for the company — and what that might tell us about the value of BNPL and fintech revenues more broadly. Then we’ll eyeball the numbers and try to decide if Square is overpaying for Afterpay.
As with most major deals these days, Square and Afterpay released an investor presentation detailing their argument in favor of their combination. Let’s dig through it.
Square is a two-part company. It has a large consumer business via Cash App, and it has a large business division that offers payments tech and other fintech services to corporate customers. Recall that Square is also building out banking services for its business customers and that Cash App also serves some banking and investing functionality for consumers.
French startup Younited Credit has raised a $170 million funding round. Goldman Sachs is leading the round with existing investors Eurazeo, Bpifrance and AG2R La Mondiale also participating. The company offers several credit products to European consumers. It also has a diversified distribution strategy.
Consumer credit in Europe is completely different from consumer credit in the U.S. Many countries don’t rely on a central credit score system to assess your credit worthiness. Similarly, most people don’t have a credit card. Financial institutions that want to offer credit lines have to evaluate the potential risk behind a credit application. It can be a complicated and tedious process.
Younited Credit differentiates itself from legacy players with a data-driven, AI-based approach. Instead of sending a ton of documents to your banker, Younited Credit tries to automate request processes as much as possible.
The company takes advantage of DSP2 regulation and open banking APIs to ingest data. As the startup has facilitated a huge volume of credit offering, it can also leverage past data for machine learning risk models.
So far, Younited Credit has granted more than €2.4 billion in credit ($2.8 billion at today’s exchange rate). It operates in five European countries. France is still the company’s leading market as Italy, Spain, Portugal and Germany represent 40% of Younited Credit’s revenue.
More recently, the company started embedding its product into third-party products. For instance, banks and fintech companies offer credit products in their apps thanks to partnerships with Younited Credit. Examples include N26, Lydia, Orange Bank and Fortuneo. In 2021, the B2B offering represented 30% of Younited Credit’s net banking income.
Right now, Younited Credit has 440 employees. It plans to hire another 200 people over the next 18 months. The company wants to double down on European markets.
Up next, Younited Credit wants to double down on embedded finance with credit products that appear on the checkout page of popular e-commerce websites and apps. The company will compete with ‘buy now, pay later’ companies, such as Klarna, Floa, Oney, Scalapay, etc.
Named Younited Pay, the company plans to offer a wide range of options with payment terms spread over 3 to 48 months. Some companies are already using Younited Pay, such as Free, Micromania and LDLC.
The startup is offering this payment solution online and in brick-and-mortar stores. Once again, Younited Credit tries to find customers where they are already. And it seems like a smart move as physical points of sales represent over 50% of Younited Pay payments this year.
Kredivo announced today it has secured another $100 million debt facility from Victory Park Capital (VPC). This doubles the Indonesian digital lending and credit platform’s total warehouse financing facility from VPC to $200 million. The first round was closed in July 2020.
Kredivo is operated by Singapore-based fintech FinAccel. This is the largest loan facility it has raised so far, and is VPC’s biggest debt commitment to a fintech company outside of the United States and Europe, as well as its only investment in Southeast Asia. Kredivo will use the debt facility to help achieve its goal of serving 10 million customers in Indonesia.
Kredivo has more than three million customers and offers two main types of lending products: zero-interest 30-day “‘buy now, pay later” financing for e-commerce and offline purchases, and three-, six- and 12-month installment loans with an interest rate of 2.6% a month, or a maximum annual rate of 53.36%. Kredivo chief executive officer Akshay Garg told TechCrunch that its “buy now, pay later” services are typically used for small-value online purchases, while installment loans are used to finance bigger transactions, like laptops, home renovation or medical care.
While “buy now, pay later” services like Klarna, Afterpay or Affirm offer convenience to customers in the United States or Europe, in emerging markets it also serves as a tool to build credit, especially in countries that have low credit card penetration, Garg said.
“Credit is one of the largest and most complex areas of the financial services ecosystem and the fact is that Indonesia is deeply underserved on that equation,” he said. Most banks only provide secured lending, like home or car loans, and unsecured lending is rare. Garg said there are only eight million credit card holders in Indonesia, which has a population of 270.6 million, and that number has not changed in 13 years.
One of the reasons for Indonesia’s very low credit card penetration rate is because banks are reluctant to give unsecured loans, especially to younger customers.
“What we’re solving is less a convenience problem and more an access problem. We’re putting unsecured credit, or the ability to buy on credit, in the hands of urban millennials for the first time, simply because banks are just not providing them access to credit cards,” said Garg.
He added that Kredivo’s effective risk-scoring model allows to charge low interest rates, and its non-performing loan ratio is in the low single-digits, despite the economic impact of COVID-19, which Garg described as a “trial by fire.”
Like credit cards from banks, Kredivo also reports customers’ loan histories to Indonesia’s credit bureaus, so they can build credit scores. “What we’re doing is building Indonesia’s first real digital credit bureau from the ground up, and I think our risk metrics show that this is not just for the sake of some funky innovation, but something that is delivering real performance,” Garg said.
In a statement, VPC partner Gordon Watson said, “We have been impressed with the resilience and growth of the business and look forward to deepening our partnership with Kredivo. The company presents a unique combination of growth, scale, risk management and financial inclusion in one of the most exciting emerging markets in the world.”
The buy now, pay later frenzy isn’t going anywhere as more consumers seek alternatives to credit cards to fund purchases.
And those purchases aren’t exclusive to luxuries such as Pelotons (ahem, Affirm) or jewelry someone might be treating themselves to online. A new fintech company is out to help consumers finance big-ticket items that are considered more “must have” than “nice to have.” And it’s just raised $14 million in Series A funding to help it advance on that goal.
Neal Desai (former CFO of Octane Lending) and James Schuler (who participated in Y Combinator’s accelerator program as a high schooler) founded New York City-based Kafene in July 2019. The pair’s goal is to promote financial inclusion by meeting the needs of what it describes as the “consumers that are left behind by traditional lenders.”
More specifically, Kafene is focused on helping consumers with credit scores below 650 purchase retail items such as furniture, appliances and electronics with its buy now, pay later (BNPL) model. Consider it an “Affirm for the subprime,” says Desai.
Global Founders Capital and Third Prime Ventures co-led the round, which also included participation from Valar, Company.co, Hermann Capital, Gaingels, Republic Labs, Uncorrelated Ventures and FJ labs.
“Historically, if you could access credit, you could go to the bank or use a credit card,” Third Prime’s Wes Barton told TechCrunch. “But if you had some unexpected expense, and had to miss a payment with the bank, there would be repercussions and you could fall into a debt trap.”
Kafene’s “flexible ownership” model is designed to not let that happen to a consumer. If for some reason, someone has to forfeit on a payment, Kafene comes to pick up the item and the customer is no longer under obligation to pay for it moving forward.
The way it works is that Kafene buys the product from a merchant on a consumers’ behalf and rents it back to them over 12 months. If they make all payments, they own the item. If they make them earlier, they get a “significant” discount, and if they can’t, Kafene reclaims the item and takes the loan loss.
Image Credits: Kafene
It’s a modern take on Rent-A-Center, which charges more money for inferior products, Desai believes.
“This is also a superior product to credit cards, and the size of that market is massive,” Barton said. “We want to take a huge chunk of credit card business in time, and give consumers the flexibility to quit at any point in time, and fly free, if you will.”
Such flexibility, Kafene claims, helps promote financial inclusion by giving a wider range of consumers options to alternative forms of credit at the point of sale.
It also helps people boost their credit scores, according to Desai, because if they buy out of the loan earlier than the 12-month term, their credit score goes up because Kafene reports them as a positive payer.
“In any situation where they don’t steal the item, their credit score improves,” he said. “Even if they end up returning it because they can’t afford it. In the long run, they can have a better credit score to qualify for a traditional loan product.”
Kafene rolled out a beta of its financing product in December of 2019 and then had to pause in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The company essentially “hibernated” from March to June 2020 and re-launched out of beta last July.
By October, Kafene stopped all enrollment with merchants because it had more demand that it could handle — largely fueled by more people being financially strained due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In March 2021, the company was handling about $2 million a month in merchandise volume.
With its new capital, Kafene plans to significantly scale its existing lease-to-own financing business nationally, as well as to launch a direct-to-consumer virtual lease card.
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines.
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