Klarna Takes Disruption to the Banks in Europe

Stockholm-based Klarna has secured a banking license from the Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority.

With this license, the company can operate as a bank across the European Union. And according to Klarna, securing the license makes it one of Europe’s largest banks right out of the gate, with 60 million customers.

The company sees itself as a formidable competitor to Europe’s banks.

Jim Lofgren, U.S. General Manager for Klarna, told PaymentFacilitator.com that the license is a “natural next step” that allows the company to broaden its product offerings.

“It gives us flexibility on account services we can provide, it also gives us the ability to issue our own cards and it will allow us connect into centralised payment systems, these are all very interesting opportunities,” Lofgren said in an email.

The company has been clear that it believes it has something to offer customers in retail banking.

“Klarna was founded with the aim to make payments online as smooth, simple and safe. There are clearly still a lot of friction and pain-points in retail banking for consumers and we believe we can bring solutions that will improve the customer experience in managing their payments and finances,” Lofgren said.

“We are a technology intensive, solution driven, consumer centric company,” he said. “We build products and services from the end-user perspective. This provides us with a real competitive edge given what is being offered to consumers now but we now have ability and tools to challenge traditional banking model on equal terms.”

Klarna isn’t the only company looking to bring its innovation-focused model to challenge the broader world of financial services. India’s Paytm, for example, received its license to operate as a payments bank in May.

When it received its approval, Paytm’s founder, Vijay Shekhar Sharma, wrote in a blog post that Paytm wanted to “build a new business model in banking industry, focused on bringing financial services to 100’s of millions of un-served or underserved Indians. With power of technology and innovation-at-scale, we aim to become a benchmark in world of banking.”

As PaymentFacilitator.com has previously reported, Klarna, which operates as a payment facilitator, is known for enabling consumers to “pay later” for their online purchases while bypassing the traditional credit card infrastructure, allowing them to finance purchases and pay either in installments or interest-free within 14 days after delivery. It also offers a credit card payment option.

In February, the company expanded its pay later model through an acquisition of BillPay in Germany, making that country Klarna’s largest market at the time.