Investor interest in the fintech industry, which digitizes functions such as payments and lending, has exploded as consumers increasingly shop and manage their finances online—a trend that has only been hastened by the coronavirus pandemic.
Some past offerings of upstart digital lenders haven't lived up to lofty expectations, however. Firms have struggled with challenges such as brutal competition, higher-than-anticipated defaults and spikes in funding costs. On Deck Capital Inc. went public in a high-profile 2014 listing that valued it at well over $1 billion. The small-business lender announced a deal this month to be acquired for just $90 million. More recently, another online buy-now-pay-later company, Australia-based Afterpay Ltd., has soared in value this year. It became the country’s largest listed tech company by market value on the back of a pandemic-sparked shift to online shopping there.