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redalpine invests in Klarna to disrupt the traditional credit system

a woman walking past a pink office sign saying klarna

High-interest credit cards and rigid traditional payment systems often create financial stress for consumers. In today's fast-paced digital economy, the demand for flexible and convenient payment options has never been greater. Many consumers, particularly younger generations, are wary of accumulating credit card debt and seek alternative solutions that allow them to pay when and how they prefer to.

Enter Klarna, a Swedish fintech company and one of Europe’s notable success stories. Klarna's mission is centered around simplifying the online shopping experience by providing innovative payment solutions and seamless checkout processes for both consumers and merchants. Klarna's Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) service allows consumers to make purchases and pay over time without interest or fees if payments are made on time. Millions of people now choose to shop with Klarna, securing its market-leading position in the BNPL category.

A Unique Investment Opportunity

Despite its impressive market position, Klarna experienced a valuation decline, from a peak of $45.6 billion in June 2021 to $6.7 billion in July 2022. This adjustment reflected broader market challenges, as investors reconsidered backing online lending platforms amidst rising interest rates. Despite the valuation decline, Klarna's strong business performance presented a unique investment opportunity for redalpine. Through our later-stage, evergreen Summit Fund, we invested in Klarna in Q4 2023 by sourcing several opportunities in the secondary market, joining  a very strong cap table with Sequoia as the largest investor, alongside other investors including Silver Lake, Bestseller Group, Dragoneer, Permira, Visa, Ant Group, and Atomico.

Since we invested, Klarna's robust growth and impressive operational performance have driven the company back to profitability. In Q3 2023, Klarna first reported a return to profitability alongside a 17% year-over-year increase in revenue. Originally dominating the European market, Klarna has now also made significant inroads into the US and other regions, now deriving over 30% of its revenue from the US market, its largest single market.

Klarna vs its closest competitors

Klarna's Advanced Product Ecosystem

Klarna's product ecosystem is built on advanced financial technology, data analytics, and artificial intelligence. The core BNPL service is supported by a robust risk management platform that uses machine learning algorithms to assess creditworthiness in real-time, ensuring low default rates while offering instant credit decisions. Klarna’s AI-driven insights enable more accurate fraud detection and personalized user experiences.

The Klarna mobile app integrates various financial services, including personal finance management tools, purchase tracking, and tailored offers, creating a comprehensive financial experience for users. The technology stack is designed for scalability and security, ensuring compliance with international regulations and maintaining user trust through stringent data protection measures. Klarna's AI capabilities also extend to merchant solutions, providing retailers with advanced analytics and insights into consumer behavior, optimizing marketing strategies and inventory management. Its AI assistant, powered by OpenAI, does the equivalent work of 700 full-time agents, while the company has also markedly reduced its sales and marketing expenses by using AI-powered content creation.

From Burger King to Unicorn Founders

Klarna was co-founded in 2005 by Sebastian Siemiatkowski, Niklas Adalberth, and Victor Jacobsson. Sebastian Siemiatkowski, in particular, continues to be a very strong and visionary founder, serving as CEO and spearheading the growth of the company. Sebastian and Niklas first met during their student job at Burger King, becoming friends before co-founding Klarna. They both studied at the Stockholm School of Economics, where they met Victor Jacobsson, Klarna’s third co-founder.

Future Outlook

The BNPL market is experiencing rapid growth as it addresses the shortcomings of traditional credit systems. The market already accounts for over 5% of global eCommerce payments and is expected to reach $680 billion by 2025, growing at a compound annual growth rate of over 21%.

Klarna is also poised for significant growth, with several value inflection points coming up. The company plans to expand its presence in the United States and other emerging markets, tapping into large, underpenetrated consumer bases. Additionally, Klarna is continually enhancing its product offerings with new features such as subscription management and virtual banking services, aimed at increasing user engagement and retention. Strategic partnerships with global retail giants and technology firms are expected to bolster Klarna's market position, driving higher transaction volumes and revenue growth. This makes Klarna well-placed for an IPO in the near future.

Our investment in Klarna aligns with our vision of backing innovative companies that disrupt traditional markets. We’re convinced that Klarna’s impressive technology, strong market presence, and commitment to enhancing consumer financial experiences make it a standout investment in the fintech space. We look forward to supporting the Klarna team as they continue to reshape the credit landscape and offer better financial solutions to consumers worldwide.


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