It’s a good time to be in the business of lending people money to buy stuff online, at least if you’re one of those credit-card alternatives that have reclaimed the age-old term “buy now, pay later.” Until recently, some of these companies couldn’t get the time of day from investors. But that’s all changed. Take today’s deal, Goldman Sachs’ $2.2 billion purchase of home- improvement lending service GreenSky. It provides a rescue of sorts to GreenSky’s long- suffering shareholders. Until today, GreenSky had been a disaster of an investment: it went public at $23 in 2018 but lately had been trading around $6, amid slow growth in revenue. Goldman is paying about $12.
Meanwhile, our London reporter Mark Di Stefano reported today that British online retail bank Monzo is announcing tomorrow its own “buy now, pay later” lending product. Monzo, which is popular with millennials, had tested a product for which it charged a 19% annual interest rate for loans of six months or more. That sounds a little too much like a credit card, of course, which these products are meant to replace. Whether the interest rate is in the final product won’t be clear until tomorrow. Either way, both the Goldman and Monzo deals, after similar moves by PayPal and Square, show how many firms are jumping into this market.