In September, two financial services start-ups in different parts of the world pulled in more than $1bn in funding for the next big thing in credit.

It’s called “buy now pay later” and has its own consensus acronym — BNPL — as if it is an industry sector all on its own. Certainly, its time has come. As online shopping booms worldwide, retailers and consumers alike are looking for flexible payment options. California-based BNPL leader Affirm added funding of $500m to investments of $800m made previously, while Swedish firm Klarna raised $650m in an equity funding round. Its valuation of $10,65bn makes it the most valuable private “fintech” company in Europe.

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