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Afterpay’s meteoric rise as a lending pioneer

Randy Mancini 2 Jan 19
Smartphone with Square logo is seen in front of displayed Afterpay logo
FILE PHOTO: Smartphone with Square logo is seen in front of displayed Afterpay logo in this illustration taken, August 2, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

January 20, 2022

(Reuters) – Block Inc, formerly Square Inc, is set to complete its acquisition of buy now, pay later (BNPL) company Afterpay Ltd by Feb. 1, one of the biggest takeovers in Australian history.

Afterpay emerged from relative obscurity to become one of the pandemic’s biggest winners and a global bellwether in alternate lending, as its business model was lapped up by customers and investors alike.

Here are some key events in the meteoric rise of the BNPL company:

2014: Afterpay incorporated by co-founders Anthony Eisen and Nick Molnar.

2015: Afterpay taps Touchcorp to develop its system.

July-August 2015: Afterpay receives A$8 million ($5.8 million) in equity funding from private investors and then launches in Australia.

May 2016: Afterpay lists on Australia’s stock exchange after raising A$25 million in its initial public offering.

February 2017: Afterpay and Touchcorp agree to merge, with Afterpay shareholders holding 64% of the new company.

May 2018: Launches in the United States.

June 2018: Afterpay to be included in the S&P/ASX 200 index.

November 2018: Kim Kardashian tweets about Afterpay.

June 2019: Australia’s financial crime watchdog orders an audit https://www.reuters.com/article/us-afterpay-touch-probe-idUSKCN1TD2W0 of Afterpay over suspected non-compliance with anti-money-laundering and counter-terrorism financing laws.

July 2019: Afterpay plans to move toward a majority independent board https://www.reuters.com/article/us-afterpay-touch-ceo-idUSKCN1TW41X with an independent chair.

November 2019: External auditor finds “low risk” https://www.reuters.com/article/us-afterpay-touch-auditor-idINKBN1XZ048 related to Afterpay in terms of breaching money laundering and terrorism financing laws.

March 2020: Afterpay shares tank as COVID-19 spreads and forces global lockdowns.

May 2020: Tencent buys a 5% stake https://www.reuters.com/article/us-afterpay-equity-tencent-holdings-idUSKBN22D52J in Afterpay.

July 2020: Afterpay to raise https://www.reuters.com/article/afterpay-equity-idUSL4N2ED3RW about A$800 million to capitalise on a surge in online shopping during lockdowns.

August 2020: Afterpay becomes one of 20 most valuable companies in Australia as shares hit a record after it nearly doubles https://www.reuters.com/article/afterpay-stocks-idUSL4N2FM05B its annual core earnings forecast.

August 2020: Acquires https://www.reuters.com/article/us-afterpay-expansion-europe-idINKBN25J0WG Spain-based peer Pagantis as part of its expansion plans into Europe, while announcing plans https://www.reuters.com/article/us-afterpay-results-idUSKBN25M2RW to expand service to at least four continents.

December 2020: Afterpay added to S&P/ASX 20 and S&P/ASX 50.

January 2021: Tops $30 billion valuation for the first time.

February 2021: Stock hits lifetime high of A$160.05.

April 2021: Afterpay says exploring https://www.reuters.com/business/australias-afterpay-mulls-us-listing-buy-now-pay-later-takes-off-2021-04-20 a U.S. listing after North America became its biggest market.

July 2021: Shares tumble after a report https://www.reuters.com/technology/apple-goldman-sachs-planning-buy-now-pay-later-service-bloomberg-news-2021-07-13 that Apple was working on a service to let shoppers pay for purchases in instalments.

August 2021: Block Inc, then called Square Inc, announces deal https://www.reuters.com/technology/square-buy-australias-afterpay-29-billion-2021-08-01, valued then at $29 billion, to buy Afterpay.

January 2022: Deal becomes unconditional https://www.reuters.com/technology/afterpays-29-bln-buyout-by-block-set-close-after-spain-nod-2022-01-11 after all approvals obtained. Shares delisted from S&P/ASX 200 and replaced by Block’s Australia-listed stock.

($1 = 1.3895 Australian dollars)

(Compiled by Nikhil Kurian Nainan and Shashwat Awasthi in Bengaluru; Edited by Shounak Dasgupta)