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Why is the Zip Co share price under pressure?


Shares in the BNPL operator are down more than 90% in the last 12 months, continuing their poor form today.

Shares of buy now pay later (BNPL) operator Zip Co Ltd (ASX: ZIP) have lost more than 90% of their value over the last 12 months, but there seems to be no end in sight for its long-suffering investors.

The stock has been volatile in early trading on Thursday, dropping 2% before recovering somewhat. It is currently trading at 63 cents a share.

Why is the Zip stock price dropping?

The trigger for the recent bad run in the Zip Co stock price has been a spate of bad news this week for the BNPL sector in general.

Zip – which is now the largest pure play BNPL stock on the ASX after Afterpay's acquisition by US payments giant Block (ASX: SQ2) – hit a 4-year low after tech giant Apple announced its move into the BNPL space at its WWDC event in San Francisco on Tuesday.

Under the plan, Apple customers will be able to split their purchases into equal repayments without paying any interest or fees, as is the case with BNPL offerings. Users will be able to pay for instalments over 6 weeks, with payments managed in the iPhone Wallet app.

Apple Pay Later will be available for all Apple Pay payments – currently used by 85% of US merchants – and will use the Mastercard network. Apple says it will launch the service in the US but will later expand it into other markets around the world including Australia.

Meanwhile, Australia's financial services minister has said the new government will push ahead with plans to bring BNPL operators such as Zip and Afterpay under credit laws, in a further blow to the embattled sector.

Cloudy outlook

Investors have already been bearish on the BNPL sector amid rising interest rates, more cautious consumer spending amid surging inflation and lay-offs across multiple players.

For instance, Zip's current share price is a far cry from its all-time high of $14.53 in February 2021.

Block has dropped more than 50% this year alone, US BNPL rival Affirm's share price is down 75% this year, while global rival Klarna recently also slashed its US$46 billion valuation.

None of the key players – including Zip – are profitable yet and the situation is being made worse by rising competition by the likes of PayPal, Australia's Commonwealth Bank and now Apple on the one hand and rising regulatory scrutiny in some of the biggest markets on the other.

Zip Co's acquisition of smaller US-focused rival Sezzle (ASX: SZL) in an all-stock deal earlier this year was expected to deliver immediate scale and enhanced growth, but the sector headwinds have dashed those plans.

That implies continuing woes for investors. Shareholders can probably take some solace from the fact that Macquarie analysts recently cut its 12-month price target on the Zip stock – but only to $1.05 each.

Think Zip Co shares are a buy?

If you are keen to buy shares in Zip Co you should consider investing through an online share trading platform.

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