August 28, 2019 / 3:17 AM / 4 months ago

UPDATE 2-Australia's Afterpay boosts U.S. presence amid regulatory scrutiny

* Shares jump as customer adoption more than doubles

* U.S. and UK exceeds Afterpay's expectations

* Interim internal audit due on Sept. 24 (Recasts, adds share move and analyst comment)

By Nikhil Nainan

Aug 28 (Reuters) - Afterpay Touch Group, a loss-making Australian buy-now-pay-later company, said growth in the United States was exceeding its expectations, giving its shares a boost amid heightened regulatory scrutiny at home.

Afterpay, considered a pioneer in the buy-now-pay-later space, said it was adding 50% more new customers a day in the United States than its daily average in the 2019 financial year, sending its shares up as much as 8.8% to their highest level since June.

The company reported a deeper loss of A$42.9 million ($29 million) in the year to June 30, from A$9 million previously. Total income more than doubled to A$251.6 million from transactions of A$5.2 billion over the year.

Buy-now-pay-later companies let shoppers buy products in installments without having to go through the scrutiny of applying for a credit card or a loan.

The Melbourne-based company currently has 5.2 million active customers globally, and said it was adding 12,500 new ones a day.

"It seems to be a product resonating globally at the moment, they are on a real wave of adoption which does not seem to be slowing down," said Dean Fergie, a portfolio manager at Cyan Investment Management, which owns shares in Afterpay.

In the next three years, Afterpay aims to more than quadruple its underlying sales to more than A$20 billion.

In Britain, where it recently launched, Afterpay said it had over 200,000 active customers in its first 15 weeks of trading, more than it had in the United States over the same period.

Overall active merchants across all its markets more than doubled to 32,300.

Australia's financial crime watchdog in June ordered Afterpay to conduct an external audit over suspected breaches of anti-money-laundering and counter-terrorism financing laws.

An interim report is expected to be delivered by Sept. 24 and a final report by Nov. 23.

Lawmakers in Australia have called for tougher regulation of buy-now-pay-later companies, which are not subject to the same oversight as traditional lenders. ($1 = 1.4806 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Nikhil Kurian Nainan in Bengaluru; Editing by Stephen Coates)

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