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“This excites me because it’s a very different way of doing things”: Zip Canada’s Managing Director, Steve Croth, on BNPL empowering consumers and taking on Canada’s banks

By Andrew Luu

In Canada, the Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) space is so new that to put it in local terms, it’s only in the first period and just getting started. 


Zip however is far from a new player and has been providing this innovative type of consumer financing since 2013. Zip operates in 13 markets internationally with over 9 million users, 55,000+ merchants and over $7 billion in annual transactions. What Zip learned while establishing itself around the globe is that each market is as unique as the culture. 


So, when Zip set its sight on Canada, it needed an edge. Enter Steve Croth, Managing Director of Zip Canada. With BNPL literally in its infancy here, Croth’s experience at major corporations including IBM and Microsoft, along with bringing his own startups to life like FlipGive, were paramount in preparing Zip for its Canadian launch in April 2020. 


In most major markets, it’s easy to move money, and pay online with a debit card, yet Canada lags behind and Croth sees that as a big opportunity for retailers. “Over 80% of our users link their debit card to their accounts, and many don’t have a credit card. If you think about in Canada specifically, there’s really no easy way to pay online with a debit card, so these people don’t have the ability to transact.” 


With ecommerce evolving at such a rapid rate, understanding the effect of technology on financial services is why Croth was invited to share his views on the show “Delivering eCommerce.” In this interview, Croth discussed why fintech firms like Zip, along with BNPL are changing how people spend money.  


“Buy now, pay later is just an easy-to-use service that lets people buy something and finance it over time at zero cost to them or zero percent interest,” Croth explains. “For consumers it’s a great alternative to credit cards and really resonates with younger audiences. When you’re looking at millennials and pre-millennials, they don’t want a credit card, they don’t want to pay the fees or interest rates. These are the people that are using BNPL.”


He also gave a preview for the soon-to-be-launched Zip Canada app that will connect retailers to consumers based on their shopping habits. In the U.S. where the app is already live, it garners 600,000 downloads per month and has over 5 million users. 


All these benefits have led to explosive growth in BNPL, a trend confirmed by Amazon, Target and Paypal’s recent move into the space and it’s easy to see why. By providing better access to credit with more affordable terms, BNPL is paving a new and better way forward for consumers and retailers. 


“This excites me because this is a very different way of doing things. It’s disrupting the traditional banking sector and credit card models,” Croth said while discussing Canada’s oligopoly by the big five banks. “We didn’t see real reductions in our credit card rates when interest rates were at an all-time low. So, you got to scratch your head and say at some point we just need more choice and more options. I welcome all the products like this into the market because I think it’s going to make things better for us as Canadians.” 


Watch the full interview and learn more about how Zip BNPL is helping Canadian merchants increase sales by reaching a larger and untapped audience.

About the author
Andrew Luu

Andrew Luu is an international award-winning journalist who spent a decade writing about cars before turning to the world of advertising. His resume includes AutoWeek Magazine where he tested cars and hosted its TV show, along with clients such as Chrysler, Ford and TD Bank.