Klarna
TypePrivate
IndustryFinance
Founded2005; 17 years ago (2005)
FounderSebastian Siemiatkowski, Niklas Adalberth, Victor Jacobsson
HeadquartersStockholm, Sweden
Number of locations
16
Area served
Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States
Key people
Sebastian Siemiatkowski (CEO)
Michael Moritz (Board member)
RevenueUS$1.6 billion (2021)[1]
Total assetsUS$12.2 billion (2021)[1]
Total equityUS$2.1 billion (2021)[1]
Number of employees
4,789 (2021)[1]
Websiteklarna.com

Klarna Bank AB, commonly referred to as Klarna, is a Swedish fintech company that provides online financial services such as payments for online storefronts and direct payments along with post-purchase payments.

The company has more than 4,000 employees, most of them working at the headquarters in Stockholm and Berlin. In 2019, the company handled about $35 billion in online sales.[2] As of 2011, about 40% of all e-commerce sales in Sweden went through Klarna.[3] In 2021, the company claimed to have a $45.6[4] billion valuation.[5]

Klarna's core service is to provide payment processing services for the e-commerce industry, managing store claims and customer payments.[6] It has become known as a ‘Buy now, pay later’ (BNPL) service provider, offering customers credit on their purchases as part of the checkout process.[7]

History

The three founders Sebastian Siemiatkowski, Niklas Adalberth and Victor Jacobsson participated in the Stockholm School of Economics annual entrepreneurship award in 2005 with their idea, however their idea was not enthusiastically received and their entry was among the last in the competition.[8][9]

Despite this, they decided to found Klarna in mid-2005 and started operations in Sweden.[10] An angel investor and previous Erlang Systems sales manager, Jane Walerud, invested in their company and put them in contact with a team of programmers to help them build the platform.[11]

At the end of 2007, venture capital firm Investment AB Öresund invested in the company.[12] Three years later, Klarna started selling their services in Norway, Finland and Denmark. Klarna also started their operations in Germany and the Netherlands in 2010, and in May the same year, San Francisco-based Sequoia Capital entered as investors.[13] During 2010, Klarna increased their revenues by over 80% to US$54 million (~400 million SEK).[14] In the early 2011, British newspaper The Telegraph listed Klarna as one of Europe's 100 most promising young tech companies.[15]

In 2011, growth equity firm General Atlantic led a $155 million investment round joined by DST Global, and General Atlantic's managing director Anton Levy joined the board of directors.[16][17] In May 2011, Klarna acquired Israeli company Analyzd, which had business activity on markets in Europe, Israel and the United States. Analyzd specialise in risk management and online payments, and its founders previously worked for PayPal.[14]

Klarna began offering services in Austria in 2012, and in 2013, Klarna and German SOFORT AG merged after Klarna acquired SOFORT Banking from the majority shareholder Reimann Investors, becoming Klarna Group. Both companies would continue to offer their products side by side and operate on a stand-alone basis.[18]

Klarna launched in the United States in September 2015,[19] and the US has become its principal focus for future growth.[2][6][20] That year, Minister of Enterprise and Innovation Mikael Damberg dubbed Klarna one of Sweden's "five unicorns", by which he meant startup companies that had succeeded in growing and attracting international investments. The other four companies were Spotify, Mojang, Skype, and King.[21]

In 2019, Klarna raised $460 million with plans to expand payment presence in the US, with participation from Dragoneer Investment Group, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, HMI Capital, Merian Chysalis Investment Company Limited and others.[22] This funding round valued the company at $5.5 billion, becoming the largest fintech start-up in Europe.[23] In 2020, Klarna acquired Nuji.[24]

In 2020, Ant Financial, the payment affiliate of Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba, invested in Klarna as part of a global partnership between the two firms.[25]

In February 2021, Klarna launched bank accounts for a limited number of users in Germany. Customers received a full-fledged bank account along with a German IBAN and a Visa debit card.[26]

In June 2021, Klarna raised $639 million in a fundraising round led by SoftBank Group's Vision Fund 2, taking the company's valuation to $45.6 billion.[27]

In November 2021, Klarna launched to U.S. consumers a "Pay Now" service to pay immediately and in full to any online retailer that supports Klarna.[28] They also launched the Klarna card, which enabled interest-free payments in physical card format, either in stores or online.

In January 2022, Klarna launched a physical card in the UK[29] allowing customers to shop anywhere accepting Visa card payment. The card has a wait list of 400,000[30] and will see firm square up to the credit card as a payment method for merchants not already on the platform.

In March 2022, Klarna announced the completion of its acquisition of the comparison shopping service company, PriceRunner.[31]

Technology

Parts of Klarna's code base are written in Erlang, a programming language designed by Ericsson for highly parallel, scalable applications.[32]

Controversy

Regulation

In the UK, Klarna operates in the rapidly growing post-payment sector which has been criticised for encouraging consumers to get themselves into unserviceable levels of debt.[33] In February 2021, the UK Government announced that this sector would now be subject to regulation from the UK's Financial Conduct Authority.[34]

In Sweden a large number of complaints regarding Klarna were sent to the Swedish Consumer Agency in 2014. Many customers had received reminder fees and threats about debt collection without having received a proper invoice. It was speculated if this was an unethical business model since the company made money on these reminder fees and Klarna also had a subsidiary dedicated to debt collection. The Swedish Consumer Agency also found a reason to investigate how Klarna added credit fees for partial payments.[35] The year before the co-founder Niklas Adalberth said in a presentation during the startup conference Arctic15 that: "That is one of our revenue streams so actually the best customer is the one that doesn't pay directly but actually get a reminder and then also debt collection because we are able to add the legal fees."[36]

In 2022, the District Court of Bremerhaven ruled that Klarna cannot demand a flat rate of €1.20 for a reminder by e-mail because Klarna had not submitted any corresponding costs.[37][38]

Privacy

In February 2020, Der Spiegel reported that Klarna's autofill feature allows anyone to extract personal information, such as phone number, postal address and date of birth, only based on the email address and postal code of a customer.[39]

In October 2020, Klarna mistakenly sent a marketing email to people that were unaware of ever doing business with the company.[40]

In May 2021, Klarna exposed the accounts of its users randomly to any user. Klarna stated the problem was due to a severe technical issue.[41][42]

Klarna has been used to commit identity theft and fraud.[43][44][45] The company claims that its fraud checks and controls are no more lax than that of banks.[44]

In March 2022, the Integritetsskyddsmyndigheten fined Klarna 7.5 million Swedish SEK for inadequacies in its privacy notice and handling of personal data. Klarna stated in return it would appeal the decision, citing finding the decision ambiguous and finding it unclear why the information provided in the notice was deemed inadequate, as well as through appealing hoping for further clarification on the guidelines.[46][47]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d "Klarna Bank AB 2021 Annual Report" (PDF) (pdf). Klarna. Retrieved 1 May 2022.
  2. ^ a b "Klarna annual report 2019" (PDF). Klarna. March 2020.
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-08-07. Retrieved 2011-08-22.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ "The World's Biggest Startups: Top Unicorns of 2021 - Full Size". www.visualcapitalist.com. Retrieved 2021-12-09.
  5. ^ "Klarna confirms new $31B valuation". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2021-03-01.
  6. ^ a b "About us". Klarna US. Retrieved 27 September 2021.
  7. ^ Milne, Richard (5 March 2013). "A Swedish take on 'buy now, pay later'". Financial Times.
  8. ^ Stothard, Michael (13 July 2021). "Klarna: everything you need to know before you use it". Sifted EU.
  9. ^ Graham, August (2 February 2021). "Klarna – the pay later giant and Europe's biggest private fintech". Yahoo Finance.
  10. ^ Montén, Ellen (23 May 2016). "The story of how a complete coincidence led to the creation of the $2 billion fintech startup Klarna". Business Insider Nordic. Archived from the original on 2016-12-20. Retrieved 2016-12-18.
  11. ^ "Interview: from Burger King to boardroom, how Klarna became". Whiteboard. Archived from the original on 2018-03-12. Retrieved 2016-12-18.
  12. ^ Bernet, Magnus (18 March 2016). "Börs: Öresund och Creades säljer samtliga aktier i Klarna". Analysguiden (in Swedish). Aktiespararna. SIX News.
  13. ^ "How Klarna got investment from Sequoia Capital". Business Insider.
  14. ^ a b "Klarna acquires Analyzd to tie social to finance and payments". TechCrunch. AOL. 4 May 2011. Retrieved 8 April 2016.
  15. ^ "Start-Up 100: A-Z". Telegraph.co.uk. 5 April 2011. Retrieved 8 April 2016.
  16. ^ Schonfeld, Erick. "European Payment Service Klarna Raises A Whopping $155 Million From DST And General Atlantic". TechCrunch. Retrieved 16 December 2015.
  17. ^ "Klarna Closes $155 Million Financing to Accelerate Global Expansion". General Atlantic website. Archived from the original on 22 December 2015. Retrieved 16 December 2015.
  18. ^ Ohr, Thomas (18 December 2013). "Klarna acquires German SOFORT AG for $150 million /". EU-Startups.
  19. ^ "Fast-growing Klarna expanding its role easing e-commerce". The Columbus Dispatch.
  20. ^ "Swedish payments firm Klarna shifts focus to U.S. as revenues swell". Reuters. 24 February 2016.
  21. ^ Olsson Jeffery, Miriam (24 April 2015). "Damberg om Sveriges fem enhörningar" [Damberg about Sweden's five unicorns]. Svenska Dagbladet. Retrieved 15 April 2016.
  22. ^ "Klarna raises $460 million, looks to expand its payments presence in the US". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2019-08-06.
  23. ^ Milne, Richard (6 August 2019). "Klarna becomes most valuable EU fintech with $5.5bn valuation". Financial Times. Financial Times. Retrieved 7 August 2019.
  24. ^ "Nuji | Designer Fashion & Homeware from the best online stores". Nuji. Retrieved 2020-07-13.
  25. ^ Browne, Ryan (2020-03-04). "Chinese payments giant Ant Financial buys a stake in Swedish fintech start-up Klarna". CNBC. Retrieved 2020-12-11.
  26. ^ "Klarna launches bank accounts in Germany". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2021-02-15.
  27. ^ Milne, Richard (10 June 2021). "SoftBank investment helps Klarna to $45.6bn valuation". Financial Times. Retrieved 11 June 2021.
  28. ^ Hall, Christine. "Klarna offers 'Pay Now' option in US, Klarna Card coming soon". TechCrunch. TechCrunch. Retrieved 26 November 2021.
  29. ^ "The Klarna card is here: we're launching a no interest, no late fees physical card in the UK". Klarna. Retrieved 28 January 2022.
  30. ^ "Klarna: 'buy now, pay later' firm to launch card in the UK". The Guardian. 26 January 2022. Retrieved 31 January 2022.
  31. ^ Cameron, Isabel (2022-04-04). "Klarna completes acquisition of PriceRunner -". Latest Retail Technology News From Across The Globe - Charged. Retrieved 2022-04-04.
  32. ^ "Klarna Engineering Insights". Klarna Engineering. Retrieved 8 April 2016.
  33. ^ "Klarna: 'buy now, pay later' system that is seducing millennials". The Guardian. 17 November 2018. Retrieved 2 February 2021.
  34. ^ "Buy now, pay later firms such as Klarna face stricter controls". BBC News. 2 February 2021. Retrieved 2 February 2021.
  35. ^ Carolina Neurath (2014-04-01). "Large number of complaints regarding invoices from Klarna". Svenska Dagbladet. Retrieved 2021-11-20.
  36. ^ Niklas Adalberth of Klarna at Arctic15. ArcticStartup. 25 February 2013. 31 minutes in. Retrieved 2021-11-20.
  37. ^ "Amtsgericht Bremerhaven vom 11. Januar 2022, 51 C 1062/21". OpenJur 2022,2608 (in German). Retrieved 2022-02-13.
  38. ^ "Gerichtsurteil: Sind Mahngebühren bei Klarna zulässig?". WZ Waltroper Zeitung (in German). Retrieved 2022-02-13.
  39. ^ "Dritte konnten Telefonnummern von Klarna-Kunden abrufen". Der Spiegel (in German). 11 February 2020.
  40. ^ "Privacy watchdog to probe Klarna after email backlash". BBC News. 13 October 2020.
  41. ^ "Klarna mobile app bug let users log into other customers' accounts". BleepingComputer.
  42. ^ "Klarna comment: statement on app bug". Klarna UK. 27 May 2021. Retrieved 27 September 2021.
  43. ^ "Klarna: 'I got a £30 bill - but I didn't buy anything'". BBC News. 29 January 2021.
  44. ^ a b "'Criminals love buy now, pay later': How fraudsters exploit popular interest-free payment plans". CNBC. 18 November 2021.
  45. ^ "Maksufirma Klarnan kautta pystyy tilaamaan tavaraa toisen nimiin – MOT:n testi osoittaa, kuinka pahasti ruotsalaisyhtiön tietoturva vuotaa". Yle.fi (in Finnish). 13 July 2021.
  46. ^ "Klarna comment: SDPA's conclusion of their audit". 29 March 2022. Retrieved 12 May 2022.
  47. ^ "Administrative fine against Klarna after investigation". 31 March 2022. Retrieved 13 May 2022.