Fintech ETFs Surge as Stay-At-Home Consumers Shop Online

As Americans remained at home to sit out the coronavirus pandemic, many consumers shopped online to meet their needs, bolstering financial technology sector-related exchange traded funds that track online payment methods.

Among the best performing non-leveraged ETFs of Thursday, the ARK Fintech Innovation ETF (NYSEARCA: ARKF) increased 4.6%, ETFMG Prime Mobile Payments ETF (NYSEArca: IPAY) jumped 3.6% and Global X FinTech ETF (NasdaqGM: FINX) advanced 2.8%.

Bolstering the fintech segment, PayPal (NasdaqGS: PYPL) shares surged 14.0% and Square Inc (NYSE: SQ) shares rose 9.5%.

April “was probably the strongest month for PayPal” since it became a standalone public company in mid-2015, PayPal Chief Executive Dan Schulman told MarketWatch.

PayPal added 7.4 million net new active accounts over April, a monthly record, and the momentum doesn’t seem to be slowing anytime soon, with the company enjoying its largest single day of transactions on May 1.

“Our view is, we think we are hitting a tipping point across the world where people are seeing just how simple and easy it is to use digital payments to pay for services,” Schulman said on an earnings call.

New Online Spending Habits

Schulman also argued that this new online spending habit may hold even as the lockdown measures are curtailed. Buyers in Austria and Germany are still utilizing PayPal’s platform at “elevated” levels, despite easing of restrictions in those regions.

“While there will be some short-run impacts, the long-term potential has been enhanced for the company as demonstrated by the significant increase in engagement PayPal has seen,” Keefe, Bruyette, & Woods analyst Sanjay Sakhrani, told MarketWatch.

While Square Inc. losses more than doubled in the first quarter, the company saw strong momentum with its consumer-facing Cash App. Square SQ is equipping merchants with tools needed to help generate more online sales now that the coronavirus or COVID-19 closed many bricks-and-mortar shops. The company said earnings were “significantly affected by an increase in reserves for transaction and loan losses as a result of the anticipated impact from COVID-19 on losses in future periods,” according to MarketWatch.

Looking ahead, Chief Financial Officer Amrita Ahuja pointed out that the company has seen success bringing on larger merchants since the pandemic began.

“We recognize it’s still early and we continue to see daily volatility, but we’ve been encouraged by these recent trends,” Ahuja said on an earnings call.

Chief Executive Jack Dorsey also added that direct deposits represent a “huge opportunity” for Square as those who conduct direct deposits “are some of the most engaged on the platform” and they typically carry larger balances or use more Cash App services.

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