US rapper A$AP Rocky invests in BNPL giant Klarna, becomes its CEO for a day

Rakim Mayers, better known as A$AP Rocky, has become a shareholder in Sweden-based FinTech unicorn Klarna and assumed the role of company CEO for a day.

During his day-long term as CEO on June 1, RiRI’s beau Rocky curated exclusive content within the Klarna app focused on fashion, specifically upcycling and vintage clothing.

As part of his brief duties, the fashion killa also aimed to “renounce the global fashion hibernation” that occurred in 2020 while inviting folks to “rediscover the joy of getting dressed.” In addition, the testing artist has joined Klarna’s GiveOne sustainability initiative by pledging 1% of his investment to the Miti Alliance in Kenya, which works towards slowing the impact of deforestation-propelled climate change.

Klarna boss Sebastian Siemiatkowski said, “A$AP Rocky defies categorization; a musician, actor, philanthropist, an opinion leader in style, and fundamentally someone who understands what the public wants from so many vantage points.

“He challenges the status quo each day. As the consumer experience in retail now demands discovery, curation and sustainability, we at Klarna have a lot to learn from him. Besides, after sixteen years since founding Klarna, I think I deserve a day off.”

Klarna is becoming increasingly popular with consumers and merchants alike. Europe’s biggest privately held FinTech company with 4,000 employees and a $31bn valuation, pumped up by investors like Softbank, General Atlantic and BlackRock, Klarna makes its revenue from charging merchant fees between 3 and 7%. Its revenue grew 37% from 2019 to 2020 to $1.2bn. The BNPL giant has over 90 million active users around the world who make an average of 2 million transactions per day with over 250,000 merchants like Nike, Amazon and Sephora.

Buy now, pay later, however, has led to much criticism who argued that Klarna encourages overspending. “A decade on from the financial crisis, a new generation—some of whom were barely out of primary school during the last credit crunch—is being courted by new types of lenders who are rewriting the language of debt for the Instagram era,” said the Financial Times in 2018 of Klarna.

The American rapper, singer, songwriter and actor Rocky joins hip-hop legend Snoop Dogg and pop star Lady Gaga who have also backed the Swedish unicorn.

Commenting on this new role, Rocky said, “Klarna is a company that looks ahead and challenges the status quo, which makes partnering with them so appealing to me. I’m excited to begin working with Klarna in a number of ways, including jointly creating a space for people to rediscover style as we emerge from a global fashion hibernation.”

Rocky recently revealed he worked on new clothing pieces while road tripping across the US last year with girlfriend, Rihanna. News of his Klarna investment also follows exciting updates about the rapper’s highly anticipated new album, All Smiles.

Alongside becoming an investor in Klarna, the Harlem native has been making other venture-related moves, like joining the NFT game.

His alliance with Klarna doubles as an opportunity for the A$AP to connect his reputation as a style icon as well as fuel his passion for creating financial empowerment and freedom among minorities and residents of low-income communities.

Furthermore, it would smoothen Rocky’s strained relationship with Sweden. In August 2019, Rocky was released back to the US after the country held him in pretrial detention—on an assault charge—after a post-concert fight in Stockholm. Rocky’s cause sparked international outrage, fueled by then-President Donald Trump, who lashed out on Twitter to advocate for the US’s rapper’s release and return.

Klarna’s partnership with A$AP Rocky is the latest celebrity campaign in the industry as BNPL firms compete for younger shoppers, with Afterpay running its own campaign with Rebel Wilson.

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