Ever wish you didn't have to whip out your credit card every time you order something online? Now you might not have to.
Klarna, a Swedish e-commerce company, recently arrived in the United States. Unlike similar services such as PayPal or Stripe, Klarna allows you to pay for items by entering in your email address, your shipping address, and your phone number—no unwieldy credit card numbers or log-ins necessary. In turn, Klarna uses public and private data to decide whether or not to extend you credit. If you're approved, you’re sent a confirmation email for your purchase and given two weeks to pay the bill. So far, approximately 10 American online retailers, including Overstock.com and men’s apparel website Chubbies, use Klarna as a checkout service.
Klarna dramatically simplifies the purchasing process, especially for people using mobile phones. It’s also useful for people who don’t often carry credit cards. And unlike smartphone-based programs, Klarna can be used on computers as well as mobile devices. Its versatility has paid off: Wired reports that Klarna drives about 10 percent of e-commerce in Northern Europe, including more than 30 percent in Sweden. And according to Fortune, Klarna has gained 52 million users since its launch in 2005.
Is Klarna the future of e-commerce? The jury’s still out, thanks to a bevy of fierce competitors. However, it’s intriguing to imagine a world in which we can buy an item online, from our desktop or our phone, with a few simple keystrokes—no wallets or plastic necessary.