BNPL firms benefit from a shift to online shopping

BNPL firms benefit from a shift to online shopping
Retailers have become more receptive to partnerships with BNPL firms. (Reuters)
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Updated 07 July 2020

BNPL firms benefit from a shift to online shopping

BNPL firms benefit from a shift to online shopping
  • As job losses rise and government aid ebbs, the business model will face its first real test in a recession

OHIO: Browsing online during lockdown, Jessica Friend spotted a pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses she liked, but the price tag made the 30-year-old Ohio resident think twice.

What persuaded her to click “buy,” Friend said, was the short-term credit offered by Afterpay, which split the $260 payment into four interest-free instalments.

Afterpay is among a handful of alternative credit firms that offer small loans, mostly to online shoppers, and make their money by charging merchants a 4-6 percent commission.

These buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) firms have benefited from a shift to online shopping during the coronavirus crisis in countries including the US, where state aid has also boosted retail sales.

“I’m more inclined to use them because they make it easier to afford to get the things I want all at once ... and when I want to splurge on something,” Friend said of the loans. Some investors are now betting shoppers will stay away from stores as coronavirus cases rise again in several countries around the world, boosting business for BNPL firms.

But swelling subscriber numbers may also increase bad loans, mainly among first-time users who are more likely to default.

And as job losses rise and government aid ebbs, the business model will face its first real test in a recession.

“Much still hinges on any virus second waves and government wherewithal to keep boosting demand,” said Andrew Mitchell of Ophir Asset Management which owns shares in Melbourne-based Afterpay, whose market value has risen to $12.55 billion from over $100 million 4 years ago.

While a move to online shopping was underway before the pandemic, the shift has accelerated under lockdown and Afterpay signed up more than a million new active US customers between March and early May, taking its overall base there to 9 million.

Meanwhile, retailers desperate to move merchandise have also become more receptive to partnerships with BNPL firms, which unlike credit cards or mortgages, make loans instantly.

Klarna, Europe’s biggest fintech start-up, said that since March enquiries from retailers who may want to partner with it jumped by 20 percent on average globally.

With 7.9 million US subscribers, Sweden’s Klarna has since signed up outdoor gearmaker The North Face, Disney’s streaming service and cosmetics retailer Sephora.

Most of the growth has been in higher-margin discretionary spend categories such as fashion and fitness gear, said Puneet Dikshit, a McKinsey partner in New York, who expects the sector to generate $7 billion to $8 billion in volumes this year in the US, growing by more than 150 percent annually.


Buy now, pay later fintech leads 2021 Saudi venture capital financing

Buy now, pay later fintech leads 2021 Saudi venture capital financing
Updated 38 sec ago

Buy now, pay later fintech leads 2021 Saudi venture capital financing

Buy now, pay later fintech leads 2021 Saudi venture capital financing
RIYADH: Tamara, a financial technology company that allows consumers to spread out payments for their purchases, has received the most venture capital funding of any Saudi startup this year, according to a report by MAGNITT.

The buy now, pay later company raised $110 million in April via a Series A round led by global payment processor Checkout.com, adding to $6 million it raised earlier in the year.

In second place is Sary, a business-to-business e-commerce marketplace targeting grocery stores, which attracted $30.5 million in May. The Series B round was led by Silicon Valley’s Rocketship.vc, Saudi Arabia’s largest VC investor STV and returning investors Raed Ventures, MSA Capital and Derayah VC. Sary has now raised $37 million altogether.

The third best funded Saudi startup this year is Foodics, which specializes in restaurant management systems. The Riyadh-based business received $20 million in Series B funding in February in a round co-led by PIF subsidiary Sanabil Investments and STV.

Endeavor Catalyst, Elm and Derayah Ventures also joined the round, which and takes its total funding to date to $28 million.

Fourth of MAGNITT’s list is Azom, a developer of electronics and computer software, which raised $9.5 million in February. The Series A round from distribution company Assr AlJawal and an undisclosed individual investor brings total funding for the company to $10.7 million.

In fifth place was Lendo, which offers instant invoice financing to SMEs through its Shariah-complaint lending marketplace. It raised $7.2 million in March from investors led by Derayah Ventures and including Seedra Ventures, Shorooq Partners, 500 Startups, and Impact46.

Qatar Airways grounds 13 Airbus A350s as fuselage degrading

Qatar Airways grounds 13 Airbus A350s as fuselage degrading
Updated 1 min 24 sec ago

Qatar Airways grounds 13 Airbus A350s as fuselage degrading

Qatar Airways grounds 13 Airbus A350s as fuselage degrading
  • Aircraft to be removed “from service until such time as the root cause can be established"

DOHA: Qatar Airways says it has grounded 13 Airbus A350s over degradation of the plane’s fuselage.
Qatar Airways made the announcement on Thursday, further escalating a monthslong dispute with the European airplane maker.
It says the aircraft will be removed “from service until such time as the root cause can be established and a satisfactory solution made available to permanently correct the underlying condition.”
Airbus did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Qatar Airways, based in the energy-rich Arabian Peninsula nation of the same name, is a major East-West long-haul carrier. It is one of the biggest buyers of the twin-aisle aircraft.


Saudi Arabia digital content market to hit $5.3bn by 2030

Saudi Arabia digital content market to hit $5.3bn by 2030
Updated 05 August 2021

Saudi Arabia digital content market to hit $5.3bn by 2030

Saudi Arabia digital content market to hit $5.3bn by 2030
  • Investment in digital video in KSA to read SR1.2 billion

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s digital content market is expected to grow to between SR16 and SR20 billion ($5.3 billion) by 2030, according to a report by the Trend Corporation in cooperation with the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

An initiative to invest in video content creation aims to attract major companies specialized in visual content, and the investment rate in video in Saudi Arabia is expected to reach SR1 billion to SR1.2 billion.

Video generated $175 million in revenue locally, with video streaming $127 million, and the expected market size is $262 million in 2025.

Videos make up 79 percent of global Internet traffic. In the Middle East and Africa, video traffic has grown eight-fold, and the region is estimated to have created 169 billion minutes of video content every month by the end of 2020.

The Digital Media Committee was created in Saudi Arabia, and it’s meant to activate the digital media to contribute to developing the business sector, create partnerships, and to benefit from the media experts.


PIF-backed developer Roshn launches 30,000 home Saudi community

PIF-backed developer Roshn launches 30,000 home Saudi community
Updated 05 August 2021

PIF-backed developer Roshn launches 30,000 home Saudi community

PIF-backed developer Roshn launches 30,000 home Saudi community
  • 30,000-home development spread across 20 million sq m north of Riyadh
  • 4,500 of the units will be built in phase one

RIYADH: Roshn, the community developer backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, has launched its first project in the Kingdom.

Sedra will be a 30,000-home development spread across an area of 20 million square meters north of Riyadh, south of King Khalid Airport, Roshn said in a statement.

More than 4,500 of the units will be built in phase one of construction, providing homes of various sizes and facades. They will be delivered ready to live in and come with kitchens, split unit ACs, water heating systems, and LED light fixtures, among other amenities.

“Our communities will represent a global exemplar in residential living and will play a vital role in further advancing the nation’s flourishing infrastructure and real estate sectors, which are crucial to the Kingdom’s economic diversification and growth goals,” said Roshn Group CEO David Grover.


SABIC second-quarter profit jumps to 10-year high as prices, volume increase

SABIC second-quarter profit jumps to 10-year high as prices, volume increase
Updated 6 min 2 sec ago

SABIC second-quarter profit jumps to 10-year high as prices, volume increase

SABIC second-quarter profit jumps to 10-year high as prices, volume increase
  • Net profit jumped 57 percent to $2.04 billion in Q2
  • Selling prices increased 10 percent, sales volumes rose 3 percent

RIYADH: Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (SABIC) reported a surge in second-quarter profit as it sold more chemicals at higher prices than the previous quarter amid an increase in crude prices.

Net profit jumped 57 percent to a 10-year high of SR7.64 billion ($2.04 billion) in the three months to the end of June as revenue rose 13 percent to SR42.42 billion, SABIC said in a filing to the Tadawul stock exchange.

The Middle East’s largest petrochemicals producer posted a SR12.51 billion first-half profit on sales of SR79.95 billion, compared with a loss of SR3.27 billion on sales of SR54.81 billion in the same period last year.

Selling prices increased by 10 percent in the second quarter compared with the first three months of the year, while sales volumes rose 3 percent. Over the first half, sales prices were 48 percent higher and volumes were 2 percent lower compared with last year.

“SABIC’s financial performance in the second quarter was strong – continuing the margin improvement seen during the first quarter of 2021,” Yousef Abdullah Al-Benyan, vice chairman and CEO of SABIC, said in a statement to the Tadawul. “This was driven by higher sales volumes and prices, supported by a rise in oil prices and a healthy supply and demand balance for most of our key products as the global economy continued its path to recovery.”

SABIC achieved $230 million of synergies with Saudi Aramco since June 2020 when Aramco acquired a 70 percent stake in SABIC, driven by combining their purchasing power and sharing warehousing and logistics facilites.

In the second half of 2021, SABIC expects demand will continue to be strong in line with the recovery of the global economy. Margins will moderate, but remain healthy as oil prices and feedstock costs remain elevated while existing supply constraints ease and new supply capacity comes on line, it said in the filing.

SABIC will be targeting markets for its products in the US, China and Africa as they represent promising growth opportunities for its main sectorsm Al-Benyan said in a press conference after the earnings, Arabiya reported. 

The company has no plans to issue bonds ot other debt instruments but financial evaluation of the markets and the company’s position will continue, he said.