US payments giant PayPal Holdings said it would acquire Japanese buy now, pay later (BNPL) firm Paidy in a $2.7 billion largely cash deal.
The deal marks another step for PayPal to claim the top spot in an industry experiencing a pandemic-led boom.
The deal tracks rival Square's agreement last month to buy Australian BNPL success story Afterpay for $29 billion, which experts said was likely the beginning of a consolidation in the sector.
"The acquisition will expand PayPal's capabilities, distribution and relevance in the domestic payments market in Japan, the third largest ecommerce market in the world, complementing the company's existing cross-border ecommerce business in the country," PayPal said.
Fuelled by federal stimulus checks, the BNPL business model has been hugely successful during the pandemic and has upended consumer credit markets.
These firms make money by charging merchants a fee to offer small point-of-sale loans which shoppers repay in interest-free instalments, bypassing credit checks.
Apple and Goldman Sachs are the latest heavyweights that have been reported to be readying their own version of the service.
Paypal, already considered a leader in the BNPL market, also entered Australia last year, raising the stakes for smaller companies such as Sezzle and Z1P.AX.
The US payments firm has been among the big winners of the Covid-19 pandemic as more people used its services to shop online and pay bills to avoid stepping out.
Businesses, forced to move their stores online, also flocked to PayPal boosting its customer base of active accounts to more than 400 million worldwide.
Buying Paidy will help PayPal expand in Japan, where online shopping volume has more than tripled over the last 10 years to some $200 billion, but more than two-thirds of all purchases are still paid for in cash, PayPal said in an investor presentation.
Paidy, with more than 6 million registered users, offers payment services that allow Japanese shoppers to make purchases online, and then pay for them each month at a convenience store or via bank transfer.
The Financial Times had reported last month that Paidy was considering becoming a publicly listed company.
Paidy, whose backers include Soros Capital Management, Visa and Japanese trading house Itochu, will continue to operate its existing business and maintain its brand after the acquisition.
Founder and Chairman Russell Cummer and CEO Riku Sugie will continue to hold their roles in the company, PayPal said.
The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2021, and will be minimally dilutive to PayPal's adjusted earnings per share in 2022.