(Image: AAP/Derek Rose)

Few companies have captured Australia’s imagination like Afterpay -- a business that didn’t exist five years ago and is today worth almost $7 billion. If it were a screenplay, the story would have it all: young founder has a bold idea while working in his bedroom, becomes a household name in Australia, successfully takes on the world, slips into the crosshairs of regulators, and stirs an international goliath into action. 

To get an understanding of the extraordinary value gain of Afterpay, consider this: two of Australia’s most successful eCommerce businesses, Kogan and Catch of the Day, are worth around $441 million and $230 million respectively. Both started nearly a decade before Afterpay. Prospa, one of Australia’s largest fintechs, is worth $565 million. Even JB Hi-Fi, arguably Australia’s most successful retailer of the last two decades, is worth a relatively paltry $3 billion. That's less than half of Afterpay’s market value.