For online shoppers, it’s commonplace these days to buy now and pay later for new clothes or gear. For venture capitalists, it seems almost equally commonplace to pay now and get a stake in a buy now, pay later (BNPL) platform.
In the past couple of years, BNPL upstarts across the globe have been raking in billions in fresh funding from venture and growth investors. And funds continue to flow to the space.
The latest to rack up investment is France’s Alma, a provider of installment-based payments through a large merchant network. The 3-year-old company announced Thursday that it raised $210 million in debt and equity financing.
The investment includes $130 million in Series C funding and $95 million in debt financing. Alma, which currently operates in France, Germany, Belgium, Spain and Italy, plans to expand into several other European countries next year.
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Buy now, pay later platforms, which allow buyers to make purchases on payment plans, first became integrated into payment systems in e-commerce and are now rapidly expanding to other industries.
In 2021, around $4 billion was invested in companies described as buy now, pay later, or with installment payment plans. That’s up from $1.7 billion in 2020. The funding surge in 2021 came as overall fintech investment hit record highs.
The BNPL sector includes a mix of mature companies and more recent upstarts. Among established names, standouts include San Francisco-based Affirm, which went public last year, and Sweden’s Klarna, which is reportedly eyeing its next funding round at a valuation of up to $60 billion.
Square (now Block), meanwhile, recently completed its an acquisition of Australia-based Afterpay. And last year, Apple announced it is launching a BNPL service as part of Apple Pay, with Goldman Sachs covering the loans. Visa and Mastercard also announced their own BNPL initiatives in 2021.
BNPL is also now moving from e-commerce to other sectors. One such sector is travel, with Silicon Valley-based Uplift partnering with airlines and travel brands to offer these experiences. And Fly Now Pay Later, headquartered in the U.K., helps consumers pay large vacation bills over time.
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias
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