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Klarna freezes hiring as chief bets AI can do the job instead

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The picture in Britain has been less clear. The Treasury has been consulting on draft legislation that would bring buy now, pay later providers under the gaze of the Financial Conduct Authority, meaning requirements around credit checks and marketing. However, industry sources believe the legislation has been quietly kicked into the long grass.

Mr Siemiatkowski described himself as a free marketeer but said the company supports regulation: “I’m not a big proponent of anarchy. I don’t think it’s a good way to run society.”

However, he warned against prescriptive rules, arguing that what he sees as the great evil – credit cards – end up being much worse for consumers despite being regulated.

Mr Siemiatkowski lobbied Boris Johnson on the rules, an effort that may now have been in vain, but described the current government as “very pro business… it has done a lot of smart things”.

He said: “The UK is definitely the financial centre of the world and continues to be so,” speculating that his fondness for the UK might be the result of a recent DNA test that said he was 30pc British.

In the next six months, the company aims to take its first steps towards launching a personal financial assistant, driven by AI, that can automate and suggest better financial decisions.

Mr Siemiatkowski believes this is what will drive future growth at Klarna and shake up the banking industry.

He said: “The digital assistant will be able to renegotiate your mortgage on your behalf. That means from a macro economic level, all of the excess profits that have existed in this industry are going to go away.

“If that’s the future, it means that the market will be smaller, but Klarna, if we do a good job, could participate in that transformation and take a larger market share of a smaller pie.”

Mr Siemiatkowski is not far from having run Klarna for two decades, but said he wants to have “a few more decades here”.

“I didn’t understand fully the complexity of the challenge that I took on 20 years ago,” Mr Siemiatkowski conceded. “[If I had] I would probably have chosen a slightly more simple industry.”

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