The share price of buy now, pay later market leader Afterpay has reached new heights after the company reported a sales record and near doubling of customers around the world.

The Melbourne-headquartered juggernaut booked a 115 per cent surge in underlying sales to $4.1 billion in the September quarter, up 9 per cent on the record set in the previous quarter.

Its operations in the UK - where the number of merchants increased tenfold - was the standout performer, with underlying sales skyrocketing 346 per cent.

The number of active customers globally soared by 98 per cent to 11.2 million, with more than half in the US.

In Australia and New Zealand, underlying sales jumped a more modest but still impressive 63 per cent, while customer growth momentum slowed to 15 per cent from 18 per cent for the full 2019-20 financial year.

Merchants joining up in Australia included Deals Direct, and Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein, both in-store.

The company says its launch into Canada is going well, with several large retailers on-board, including Lush and Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop.

Gwyneth Paltrow’s ‘modern lifestyle’ brand Goop has signed up with Afterpay. Picture: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images
Gwyneth Paltrow’s ‘modern lifestyle’ brand Goop has signed up with Afterpay. Picture: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

Afterpay also plans to expand into Asia, starting in Singapore, and has moved to enlarge its European footprint with the acquisition of payment services company Pagantis.

The deal was announced in August and is expected to be complete by the end of this calendar year, pending regulatory approval by the Bank of Spain.

Afterpay is bullish about the future, saying as tech-savvy millennials and Gen Z customers reach their peak earning years over the next decade, the percentage of total retail spend globally coming from these generations - who shun credit cards in favour of BNPL - will increase significantly.

"Afterpay's model was developed to meet the needs of these two important generations and align with their core values," chief executive Anthony Eisen said.

"The trust and ongoing loyalty of our customer base is evidenced by the growing frequency per customer the longer they remain on the platform.

"The lifetime value of a customer therefore compounds over time as a result of this habitual use.

"This is being replicated in new regions as we expand globally."

Afterpay chief executive Anthony Eisen says millennials and Gen Z customers are all-important. Picture: Natalie Grono
Afterpay chief executive Anthony Eisen says millennials and Gen Z customers are all-important. Picture: Natalie Grono

The company said customer defaults remained below historical rates in all regions in which it operates, continuing a trend of lower gross losses.

Afterpay announced last week it had become Westpac's first digital banking platform partner, allowing it to provide the bank's transaction and savings accounts and other cashflow management tools to its customers.

It hasn't been all smooth sailing for Afterpay, which came onto the radar of AUSTRAC.

The financial crimes regulator ordered the appointment of an external auditor to examine the company's compliance with anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing laws and said a fortnight ago it had "completed all remediation necessary to ensure compliance".

Afterpay's share price had a record close of $101.94 last week but climbed as high as $103.80 in intraday trade on Wednesday.

Originally published as Afterpay shares soar on sales record


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