Gary Rohloff is the chief executive of Kiwi buy now pay later company Laybuy which listed on the Australian Securities Exchange this year.
How would you describe 2020 for your business?
It is an understatement to say 2020 has been anything but a rollercoaster. It has been one of the most challenging years any business leader will ever experience.
Despite the challenges presented, 2020 has also presented new opportunities as consumers have continued to embrace the benefits of buy now pay later (BNPL). This has allowed Laybuy to continue its rapid growth trajectory and end the year strongly.
How do you think the Government has handled the Covid-19 crisis?
Overall, the Government has done an excellent job in managing an incredibly difficult situation.
And while it is always easy to sit back and criticise with the benefit of hindsight, New Zealanders are blessed to be enjoying a summer free of restrictions unlike other parts of the world, such as the UK, which are continuing to face rolling lockdowns.
What are two key things the Government should do for economic recovery?
The New Zealand economy has shown itself to be incredibly resilient to the impact of Covid, but some sectors are clearly hurting. The most obvious being the tourism sector. It would be good to see the Government move towards opening our borders to "safe" countries that have Covid well contained. This should be supported with strict testing of visitors before and upon arrival.
The housing market is also an area of concern. Continued rapid price escalation makes it increasingly difficult for first homeowners to get onto the property ladder. I would encourage the Government to undertake further work to address supply issues, including making it easier to free up land for housing development in our urban areas.
How is your business planning to tackle 2021?
We are looking forward to 2021 and plan to tackle it in the same way we have tackled every year since we launched - with passion, positivity, commitment, and determination.
Buy now pay later is rapidly becoming a payment method of choice for consumers and we are absolutely committed to be the provider of choice, not only in New Zealand, but around the world. In 2021, we will continue to focus on growth opportunities in the UK and are excited to be launching into the USA – where the opportunities are immense
What will be the major challenges and/or opportunities for your industry?
BNPL is growing rapidly around the world but isn't necessarily well understood by those who don't use it.
It is critical the industry is seen to be responsible and transparent with both consumers and retailers, and Laybuy is committed to being at the forefront of these conversations.
While New Zealand and Australia have high levels of BNPL usage, levels of adoption in Europe and the United States are much lower and this presents immense opportunities for growth as we look to expand into these markets.
What was the most interesting non-Covid story of 2020?
While Covid has consumed the news agenda, it was interesting to watch the United States election from afar. Donald Trump is unlike any other politician and it will be fascinating to see what his next move is. I suspect he is unlikely to ever admit he was defeated.
Where are you holidaying this summer?
Our entire extended family (including my brother and sister, their partners, and their children) are heading down to Tauranga to spend Christmas with my elderly parents. We will spend some time on Mount Maunganui beach over Christmas, and then head up to the Bay of Islands for the New Year.
What are your predictions for 2021?
2021 will be a very interesting year. As Covid vaccines start to roll out, attention will quickly turn to how many people choose to be vaccinated and what the implications will be if large numbers resist vaccination. For this reason, I suspect the days of travelling freely and safely may be some way off.
For Laybuy, 2021 promises to be another strong year as we launch into the United States. We have achieved a huge amount over the past year, including listing on the ASX and I am excited about our next steps as we continue to grow and take on the world.