Zilch: London buy now, pay later startup scores $2bn valuation and plans US rollout


ondon-headquartered buy now, pay later fintech Zilch has quadrupled its valuation within just eight months to reach “double unicornstatus.

A unicorn is a tech firm valued at $1billion or more. On Wednesday Zilch revealed it has raised $110 million in a Series C funding round that values the startup at $2 billion – four times the $500 million it was valued at in March, when it completed an $80 million raise.

The funding round was led by Ventura Capital and Gauss Ventures, with existing investor Goldman Sachs also participating.

Earlier this year the Standard reported Amsterdam-based data provider Dealroom had flagged the fast-growing Zilch as a “futurecorn”.

Recent examples of UK startups to have also zoomed past the $1 billion unicorn milestone in rapid timeframes include online-only secondhand car dealer, Cazoo.

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Zilch, founded by the chief executive Philip Belamant in 2018, is FCA-regulated.

It provides a buy now, pay later product that allows customers shop wherever Mastercard is accepted, rather than only when paying companies that have built direct relationships with the fintech.

The scale-up says its customer base has soared from 0 to 1 million within 13 months. It has grown headcount tenfold this year, and now employs 210 staff around the world.

It announced the acquisition of the US company NepFin earlier this year, and has opened a Miami office as it gets ready to launch in the US. It now plans to hire around 150 US staff to help boost the US rollout.

Belamant said he is “excited about this major milestone” but that his team “realise that the job is nowhere near done”.

Buy now, pay later allows people to spread purchases over multiple interest-free payments. It has grown rapidly since the pandemic hit as online shopping has soared, and has proved particularly successful with a younger demographic.

The sector is set to be worth $166 billion by 2023, according to GlobalData stats.

Critics say the payment method can be a debt trap and argue some platforms don’t do enough to signpost the risks to consumers, while the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority has called for urgent regulation of the space, flagging potential consumer harm.

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