Millennials, Seeking Uniqueness, Flock To Klarna To Pay Their Way

Millenials’ decreasing use of credit cards and increasing use of debit opens doors for companies like Swedish company Klarna, a payment facilitator that offers mobile and online buyers the choice of traditional payments – charge now—or within 14 days or in installments.

Klarna works seamlessly at checkout, says Klarna North America CEO Brian Billingsley—an email address and zip code is all a shopper needs if not paying immediately. Once that info is inputted it doesn’t need to be entered again at Klarna merchant partners. Billingsley says Klarna gives millennials a little of what they’re looking for when shopping, control and uniqueness.

“It’s all about how do you look different than everyone else and it’s all about being independent,” says Billingsley. “That mindset is combined with mobile, where most of the younger millennials have always grown up with an iPhone or the equivalent in their pocket and it’s so easy to get to whatever you want super fast and you’re not necessarily tied to one thing.”

Celent senior analyst Zilvinas Bareisis says Klarna fits into the same grouping as PayPal Credit and Affirm, the “pay later” model that has grown to disrupt regular credit card choices.

“They allow customers to buy things first and pay for them later without using a traditional credit card construct,” he says. “And card rails as a whole are challenged by the emergence of faster or real-time payment infrastructures, enabling new payment methods to emerge which allow customers to send money to merchants directly from their bank accounts.”

Billingsley calls Klarna a “hybrid” that simply rides the wave of customization that is second nature to millennials. A bond is created either through a frictionless shopping experience or a payment plan, or both, depending on the situation.

“I just don’t think millennials love being tied to one thing, a card or a specific brand,” he says. “That’s where Klarna plays in incredibly well. We’re the right payment option at the right time. If you’re on and want to buy a nice pair of shoes it’s not like we splash you in the face with buy with Klarna or redirect you to another site and force you to accept this crazy relationship with a payments company you may never have heard of. You just seamlessly fit into the brand experience.”