Australia’s BNPL stocks wilt after Apple announces entry By Reuters
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Zip logo is seen on a smartphone in front of displayed Sezzle logo in this illustration taken January 25, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration
(Reuters) – Australia’s ‘buy now, pay later’ shares (BNPL) dived on Tuesday after Apple (NASDAQ:) launched its pay later service, at a time when surging interest rates, stubborn prices and geopolitical tensions have led to an emaciated global fintech industry.
Australia-listed BNPL firms like Zip Co and Sezzle Inc, and those with exposure to the sector like Humm Group and Openpay Group, have taken double-digit hits to their share price this year, much like their counterparts elsewhere in the world.
Their shares fell between 3.1% and 14.4% on Tuesday as Apple’s entry into the BNPL market now only adds to the pain caused by an unfavourable economic climate, which dissuades the average consumer from discretionary spending.
“BNPL players took a big hit on ASX today as Apple’s latest BNPL offering competes with their products directly, adding to the gloomy outlook that BNPL firms will struggle to survive the cost-of-living crisis,” said Kunal Sawhney, chief executive officer at Kalkine Group.
Swedish fintech firm Klarna, seen as the bellwether of the industry, laid off 10% of its staff last month and a recent round of capital raising revealed a massive valuation erosion.
Meanwhile, Afterpay, acquired by Jack Dorsey’s Block for $32 billion, saw bad debts more than double year-on-year in the six months to December.
Adding to the BNPL sector’s woes, Australia’s central bank surprised markets on Tuesday with a 50-basis-point rate hike, twice what was expected and the most in 22 years. It also flagged more tightening to battle surging inflation.