Startup Takeover Swedish Fintech Unicorn Klarna Buys Germany's BillPay

Swedish payments firm Klarna, one of Europe's most highly valued tech startups, has bought online payment company BillPay, its third acquisition of a German startup.

Swedish online payment service provider Klarna went on another shopping tour in Germany, announcing the takeover of its direct competitor BillPay on Monday. Both companies have specialized in billing and payment solutions on the internet.

"Germany is one of the largest e-commerce markets in the world, and we are delighted to have strengthened our position here with this acquisition," Klarna said in a statement.

Online payment provider BillPay was founded in 2009 and is headquartered in Berlin. With over 140 employees it offers its services and products in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the Netherlands, where it has 12 million users, according to Marc Berg, managing director at Klarna.

Klarna itself has 1,500 employees and is active in 18 countries where it provides online payment services for e-commerce websites that aim to eliminate risk for both buyer and seller. More than 15 million people have used Klarna in Germany already, Mr. Berg told Handelsblatt, describing the takeover as a "further step to expand the market position."

For Klarna, if the purchase of BillPay from its previous owner Wonga, Britain's biggest short-term lender, is approved by regulators, it would be the company's third takeover of a German fintech. In 2014, Klarna bought "Sofort AG" which offered a tool for direct money transfers from an online retailer's shop. Last November, Klarna bought the insolvent Berlin startup Cookies, once hyped as one of the most up-and-coming fintechs whose app aimed to simplify mobile money transfers via P2P payments.

Neither Klarna nor BillPay disclosed the value of the deal, but media reports place the price at around $75 million. Klarna was last valued at $2.25 billion in 2015.

According to Klarna, BillPay is the second-largest online payment service provider in Germany. But even after the takeover, there is no shortage of competitors. "Our biggest competitors are now Paypal as well as banks and credit card providers," Mr. Berg said.


Katharina Schneider covers financial markets. To contact the author: [email protected]