Alternative ecommerce payments company Sezzle made its public debut this week. The Minneapolis, Minnesota-based company listed on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) under the ticker SZL.
Within two hours of listing, Sezzle was being traded 82% above its opening price of $0.83 (AUD $1.22). The company was ultimately able to raise $30 million on its first day of trading. Sezzle will use the funds to attract more retailers to its platform, which currently boasts just over 5,000 merchants. The company will also enhance support for its 430,000 clients.
Why Australia? Sezzle is the first one to admit it has no plans of operating in Australia in the near future. The company’s reasoning for listing on the ASX is that the country’s investors are more familiar with Sezzle’s buy now, pay later model since one of its rivals, Afterpay, is based in Melbourne. Sezzle CEO Charlie Youakim explained this in further detail during an interview with Bloomberg yesterday.
Sezzle’s technology, which allows customers to split their ecommerce purchases into four installments with only 25% down and no fees, is only available for shoppers in the U.S. and, as the company just announced this week, Canada. It is also available for merchants regardless of their location across the globe as they seek to expand their North American customer base.
When asked about international expansion, Youakim told Bloomberg in an interview, “The product lends itself to expanding internationally,” he said. “We’re researching new markets but the vast majority of our focus is in North America.”
The company makes money not by billing users, but by charging merchants, which face a 6% + $0.30 fee on each transaction. And the model seems to be working. From March 2018 to March 2019, Sezzle’s merchant sales grew by 16x to $28.3 million. In exchange for the fee, merchants are paid upfront and don’t inherit the risk of the customer not paying back all of their installments.
Sezzle demoed its alternative payment platform at FinovateFall 2018. Prior to today’s IPO the company had raised almost $117 million.
Alternative payments specialist Sezzle has raised $5.6 million in funding in advance of its debut on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) later this year. The financing was led by Continental Investors of Chicago, and featured participation from a total of 10 investors. Sezzle plans to raise $6 million in the current round, which was described as a “pre-IPO” round by the Australian Financial Review.
Sezzle hopes to raise between $20 million and $30 million via initial public offering on the ASX. The company admits that it has no plans to begin operations in Australia, and that the listing on the ASX was to take advantage of the investment interest that Afterpay, a Sezzle rival based in Melbourne, has enjoyed since its own arrival on the ASX. Sezzle CEO Charlie Youakim noted that investors in Australia have been quicker than investors in the U.S. to embrace what he called “the potential of the payment method.”
Sezzle empowers consumers by enabling them to make purchases and pay for them in four, interest-free installments, payable every two weeks. The company’s merchant partners have recorded higher average order value and higher conversion rates since adding Sezzle to their checkout systems. More than 3,500 stores currently offer Sezzle as an option.
Sezzle’s funding comes just a few months after the company announced that its Shop Now Pay Later option would be available on the 3dcart ecommerce platform. Founded in 1997, the Florida-based, Inc. 5,000 company has more than 22,000 merchants using its technology to build and manage online stores and shopping carts, and engage in content marketing.
“By providing our merchants with an easy way to allow customers to finance their purchases, we open up possibilities for both retailers and customers,” 3dcart founder and CEO Gonzalo Gil said.
Sezzle demonstrated its technology at FinovateFall 2018. Founded in 2016 and headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the company was named to American Inno’s Top Minnesota Startup Fundings of 2018 in December, the same month the company announced the hiring of new Chief Risk Officer Jamie Kirkpatrick.
Also late last year, Sezzle picked up a $100 million line of credit from Connecticut-based investment firm, Bastion. The financing helped Sezzle promote its pay-in-2019 initiative with online retailer Tobi during last year’s holiday season. Sezzle also partnered with Priority Payment Systems last fall, which began offering Sezzle’s alternative payment option to the 174,000+ merchants on its network.