Klarna, the online payments provider based in Stockholm, Sweden, recently unveiled plans to invest $100 million into a U.S. expansion. The company, which began nine years ago as an alternative to invoicing—the paper intensive, yet popular online payment method that dominated in the Nordic countries—enables consumers to complete online and mobile transactions instantly with only a ZIP code or email address and promises big increases in the low online conversion rates merchants have come to accept. Klarna Checkout, the company’s flagship product, relies on antifraud and behavioral technology that enables merchants to present online shoppers with an array of payment options, including the ability to purchase the product and pay later, and enables Klarna to accept the payment risk on behalf of the merchant.
Klarna has grown quickly in Europe, expanding from Scandinavia into 15 markets including Germany, the Netherlands and the U.K. The company understands it is entering a crowded payments market in the U.S., but the promise of vastly increased conversion, which its merchants in other markets have experienced, will ease its entry into North America, says Brian Billingsley, the former director of strategic business development for Alliance Data, who has been tapped to lead Klarna in the U.S.
“It is very noisy from a payments perspective in the U.S.—card present, card not present, chip & PIN, Apple Pay, etc.—but we’re about the buying experience and it puts us in a very different place than all the other payments competitors,” Billingsley tells CardNotPresent.com. “If a consumer wants to use Apple Pay to complete a Klarna purchase, we will integrate it. We want to take all the operational burden away from merchants who are supposed to be thinking about their next product line, great promotions, etc., not what payment product I have to integrate tomorrow to be successful.”
The company has established its U.S. base of operations in Columbus, Ohio, which Billingsley calls a great cross section between financial services, consumer credit and retail the company needs to grow in North America. Klarna also has established a New York City office Billingsley sees becoming a global hub for the company as it continues to grow.
Klarna has 25 million users and enables 200,000 transaction each day for 45,000 retailers in Europe. The U.S. launch will start with a small number of retailers in early 2015.