Zip: An in-depth guide


Accept payments online, in person, and around the world with a payments solution built for any business – from scaling startups to global enterprises.

Learn more 
  1. Introduction
  2. What is Zip?
  3. Where is Zip used?
  4. Who uses Zip?
  5. How Zip works
  6. Benefits for businesses that accept Zip
  7. Zip security measures
  8. Requirements for accepting Zip
  9. Alternatives to Zip

Zip is a prominent global player in buy now, pay later (BNPL), offering flexible payment solutions to a wide range of customers and businesses. Zip has expanded to serve numerous countries as it caters to a diverse customer base seeking alternatives to traditional credit, reflecting a growing trend among customers who value flexibility and accessibility in payment options.

Zip allows customers to purchase goods and services immediately, while spreading out the cost over a series of payments, typically without interest. This approach appeals to customers who prefer not to use traditional credit cards or are looking for more manageable repayment plans. For businesses, partnering with Zip can mean higher conversion rates and higher average order values, as some customers might be more likely to complete purchases with flexible payment options.

Zip's international strategy involves adapting to local market conditions and customer preferences. In the United States and Australia, Zip sets itself apart from other BNPL providers by offering features such as budget management tools and transparent fee structures. In regions where traditional banking penetration is lower, Zip offers an alternative financial solution for customers who might not otherwise have access to credit.

The global BNPL market was worth more than US$23 billion in 2022 and is projected to exceed US$122 billion by 2030 – a compound annual growth rate of 22%. As Zip continues to expand, it's important for businesses to understand how it works, its benefits and the broader BNPL market dynamics.

What's in this article?

  • What is Zip?
  • Where is Zip used?
  • Who uses Zip?
  • How Zip works
  • Benefits for businesses that accept Zip
  • Zip security measures
  • Requirements for business to start accepting Zip payments
  • Alternatives to Zip

What is Zip?

Founded in Australia in 2013, Zip is a financial service that provides customers with a way to defer payments for purchases. Zip offers customers the convenience of buying goods immediately with the flexibility to spread payments over time.

Customers can use Zip to make a purchase and then repay the balance in instalments, typically biweekly – a model that can be more in alignment with pay cycles and personal budget management. For businesses, adopting Zip can lead to increased purchase totals and improved customer return rates.

In 2023, Zip reported 6.2 million active customer accounts. Zip integrates with e-commerce platforms and point-of-sale (POS) systems to provide services in different types of shopping environments. Zip's growth follows the wider trend of customers seeking alternative payment methods that are more in line with their financial planning and spending habits.

Where is Zip used?

Zip's ability to adapt in response to regional market dynamics has helped solidify its global position.

  • Australia:
    As the birthplace of Zip, Australia has a significant customer base. The platform was initially branded as two separate services – ZipMoney and ZipPay – to appeal to a wider range of customer needs.

  • United States:
    Zip acquired QuadPay in 2020 to expand its footprint in the US and cater to a market with a growing interest in BNPL services. This acquisition has allowed Zip to tap into the diverse retail landscape of the US and adapt to its customers' spending habits and credit behaviour.

  • New Zealand:
    New Zealand boasts a robust Zip customer base, which is drawn to the service for its financial flexibility.

  • Canada:
    Canada is another strategic market for Zip, with the business making inroads through partnerships and customer-centric product offerings.

Who uses Zip?

Many different types of individuals and businesses use Zip for its convenience and flexibility.

  • Retail and e-commerce: Retailers ranging from small online stores to major e-commerce platforms have incorporated Zip into their payment methods. This allows these businesses to better serve customers who prefer to manage their finances by spreading the cost of purchases over time.

  • Home and lifestyle: Businesses in the home and lifestyle industry, including furniture, electronics and DIY stores, use Zip to offer customers a way to finance large purchases, which can increase the average order value and conversion rates.

  • Health and beauty services: Dental clinics, cosmetic service providers and wellness centres use Zip to provide patients and clients with the option to pay for treatments and products in instalments, making these services more accessible.

  • Hospitality and travel: The hospitality industry, including hotels and travel agencies, offers Zip to travellers who want to pay for trips and accommodation over time, which appeals to those who prioritise budget management.

  • Automotive services: Car repair businesses and automotive service providers offer Zip as a payment option for repairs and services, which can often carry unexpectedly high costs.

  • Budget-conscious shoppers: Individuals who want to maintain control over their personal finances find Zip's instalment payments compatible with their budgeting needs.

  • Millennials and Gen Z: Younger customers, who often show a preference for minimising debt, like using Zip because it allows them to access goods immediately while paying over time.

  • Gig economy workers: Those with variable income streams, such as freelancers and gig economy workers, use Zip to align their spending with their fluctuating earnings.

  • Credit-averse individuals: People wary of traditional credit due to interest rates or the fear of debt opt for Zip as a more transparent and interest-free alternative.

How Zip works

  • Transaction initiation and routing
    A Zip transaction begins when a customer selects Zip as their payment method at a business's checkout – either online or in store. The customer's information is encrypted and sent to Zip for approval. This request includes details of the purchase and the customer's creditworthiness. When the customer has been approved, which often happens instantaneously, Zip pays the business the full amount minus a fee, and establishes the customer's repayment schedule.

  • Data security
    Security is core to Zip's operations. To protect customer and business data, Zip employs encryption protocols throughout the transaction process. Data security measures are in place to ensure that personal and financial information is protected against unauthorised access and fraud. Zip uses advanced risk-assessment algorithms that scrutinise transaction data in real time, which helps mitigate the risk of fraudulent transactions.

  • Fee structure
    Zip's fee structure differs from traditional payment networks. Instead of charging customers a fee for each transaction, businesses pay a fee for each purchase made using the service. Zip may also charge customers fees for late payments or account inactivity, depending on their user agreement.

  • Integrating with a business's existing payment systems
    For businesses, integrating Zip into their payment options often involves adding the service to their existing payment gateway or POS system. Zip's APIs and SDKs support this integration, making it a smooth addition to a business's checkout processes. The platform's design ensures compatibility with a variety of e-commerce platforms and in-store systems, offering a flexible solution to accommodate different business models.

  • Settlement and clearing
    After transaction approval, Zip handles the settlement process with businesses. Businesses receive payment promptly, which fosters confidence in the BNPL system. Clearing transactions are batch processed, ensuring that all parties are credited and debited appropriately.

  • Customer insights
    Zip provides businesses with access to transaction data and analytics, helping them understand customer behaviour and manage their sales data effectively.

Benefits for businesses that accept Zip

  • Increased average order value
    Businesses using Zip could see an increase in their average order value, because customers might be more comfortable paying for larger purchases when they have the ability to spread the cost over time without interest.

  • Improved conversion rates
    Zip can reduce basket abandonment rates at checkout. Offering a BNPL option addresses a common barrier to purchase – immediate affordability – and has the potential to boost conversion rates.

  • Immediate payment to businesses
    Even though customers are paying on instalment plans, businesses receive full payment up front from Zip. This aspect of the service can enhance a business's cash flow and reduce the financial risks associated with payment delays.

  • Access to a broader customer base
    Zip can attract a wider range of customers, including those who are credit averse or do not qualify for traditional credit, expanding a business's potential market.

  • Enhanced customer loyalty
    The convenience of instalment payments can improve customer satisfaction and retention. Customers are more likely to return to a business that offers their preferred payment method.

  • Data-driven insights
    Zip provides businesses with valuable data about purchasing trends and customer behaviour. This information can inform marketing strategies, product development and inventory management.

  • Low-touch integration
    Zip's technology is designed for easy integration with existing payment gateways and e-commerce platforms for a smooth implementation process.

  • Marketing support
    Businesses working with Zip may benefit from additional exposure through Zip's marketing channels, which can increase traffic to their stores or websites.

  • Security and compliance
    Zip maintains high standards of security and regulatory compliance, reducing a business's burden of navigating these complexities.

Zip security measures

Zip provides a safe and reliable payments platform for its customers and business partners. The platform's strong focus on security protects transactions while maintaining customer trust and ensuring the service's long-term success. Zip's security measures include:

  • Encryption
    Zip uses advanced encryption technologies to safeguard data at every point of the transaction process. This includes data in transit, such as during a purchase, and data at rest, such as stored account information. These encryption methods are updated regularly to stay ahead of potential cybersecurity threats.

  • Fraud detection and risk assessment
    The platform employs sophisticated algorithms and machine learning techniques to analyse transaction data in real time. These systems are designed to identify and flag unusual activity that might indicate fraud. By continuously monitoring transactions, Zip can quickly respond to possible security issues.

  • Customer authentication
    To prevent unauthorised access to accounts, Zip employs customer authentication processes. This often involves multi-factor authentication, where customers are required to provide additional verification beyond just a password, such as a unique code sent to their mobile device.

  • Tokenisation
    Similar to other leading payment processors, Zip uses tokenisation to enhance transaction security. This method involves replacing sensitive data, including credit card numbers, with a unique identifier (or token) that has no exploitable value. This significantly reduces the risk of data breaches and fraud.

  • Compliance with regulations
    Zip adheres to relevant financial regulations in each market where it operates. This includes compliance with global standards for data protection and payment processing, such as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS).

  • Regular security audits
    To maintain high security standards, Zip conducts regular audits and security assessments. These reviews help identify potential vulnerabilities and make sure that security measures are effective and up to date.

  • Continuous improvements
    Zip invests in ongoing research and development to stay ahead of emerging security challenges and threats.

Requirements for accepting Zip

  • Establishing a merchant account:
    Businesses that want to start accepting Zip need to set up a merchant account to process payments. This involves a contractual agreement with Zip or a designated financial institution that handles Zip transactions. The agreement typically outlines the terms, conditions, rights and obligations of both parties.

  • Integration of payment systems:
    Businesses must integrate Zip's payment system with their existing infrastructure. This could involve incorporating APIs and SDKs provided by Zip. Depending on the business model, the type of integration may vary. For example, retail stores may require in-person POS systems, while online businesses need to integrate Zip with their e-commerce platforms.

  • Compliance with legal and regulatory standards:
    Businesses must comply with local and international regulations related to financial transactions and customer protection. These include adhering to Anti-Money Laundering (AML) laws and Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements. They also need to follow data protection regulations relevant to the regions they operate in, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union.

  • Technical and security readiness:
    Businesses should have the necessary technical infrastructure to support Zip payment processing. This includes secure internet connections and compatible hardware for POS systems, if applicable. They must also ensure compliance with PCI DSS to safeguard customer payment information.

  • Financial health and stability:
    Zip may assess the financial health and stability of the business. This could involve reviewing credit history, business performance and financial statements.

  • Understanding fees and charges:
    Businesses should understand the fee structure associated with using Zip, including transaction fees, any monthly or annual charges, and potential chargeback fees.

Alternatives to Zip

Each of the following BNPL services has distinct features and operational models that cater to different markets. Their prevalence and adoption vary based on factors such as regional presence, customer preferences and business partnerships.

  • Afterpay:
    Known for its straightforward, interest-free payment plans, Afterpay allows customers to pay for purchases in four instalments. The service offers a seamless integration for online and in-store purchases and is a popular choice in retail.

  • Klarna:
    Klarna provides flexible payment options, including "Pay 30", paying in instalments and traditional credit services. The service stands out for its comprehensive app, which includes features such as wish lists and price-drop notifications.

  • Affirm:
    Affirm offers a range of repayment terms, from short-term options to longer-term financing, sometimes with interest. It is known for its transparency, providing clear information on interest and fees up front.

  • Sezzle:
    Sezzle focuses on smaller, more manageable instalments to promote responsible spending. The service places an emphasis on building customers' credit scores through timely payments.

  • PayPal Credit:
    As an extension of PayPal, this service offers short-term financing options, often with promotional offers such as interest-free periods. PayPal Credit is integrated with the large network of businesses that accept PayPal, making it a convenient option for PayPal customers.

Ready to get started?

Create an account and start accepting payments – no contracts or banking details required. Or, contact us to design a custom package for your business.