When Klarna, a Swedish e-commerce company, decided to launch operations in the United States, its corporate officers focused on setting up shop in San Francisco and Manhattan.

When Klarna, a Swedish e-commerce company, decided to launch operations in the United States, its corporate officers focused on setting up shop in San Francisco and Manhattan.

Coastal cities might appear to make the most sense when factoring in the need for operational support, acknowledges Brian Billingsley, CEO of North American enterprises.

"Taking those kinds of things into account, those are some of the best places to find consumer technology talent," he says.

But before Billlingsley had moved to Sweden to join Klarna, which provides payment services for online storefronts, he had lived in Columbus and he understood what this area had to offer.

"I knew the market here and the people here, and we have Ohio State and other universities with a highly educated, young work force," he says. "We also had blue chip research groups and companies like the Schottenstein Group and the Limited and great financial service expertise."

Billingsley and the company directors did a "deep dive" before taking the ultimate plunge and locating US headquarters in the Region. They weren't looking to open a simple sales office; they wanted nothing short of a mini Klarna here, with the ability to offer full merchant support and legal guidance.

The tipping point occurred when Klarna's directors came here for a close-up look.

"The icing on the cake that sealed the deal was when Columbus 2020 and other area CEOs and company founders took time to give us tours," Billingsley says. "We saw how collaborative the business community was here, and we saw that there was definitely opportunity for Klarna here."

And so the company established its US headquarters in Columbus. With 70 employees here (and about 30 in New York), it plans on expanding within the next couple of years, Billingsley says.

"This is a great area for retail and it is one of the best, logistically speaking, in the country," he says. "It's a major test market because it is a cross section of America and a good representation of the entire country."

That's not to say the entire retail industry, in the Region and elsewhere, won't face challenges.

"The biggest changes in retail will be this shift to mobile, which we are starting to see but not in a big wave yet," Billingsley says.

Klarna is closely dialed into these kinds of changes. Now, 45 million people use the company in 65,000 online stores, with more growth expected. Customers already registered with the company buy items online and need only type in their email and home addresses. Klarna pays the merchant and the customer pays Klarna.

While merchants get a lot of mobile web traffic, the conversion rate lags, sometimes by as much as 50 to 70 percent, Billingsley says.

"Mobile is great for browsing, but when you go to pay it can be frustrating to have to fill out 20 fields with your thumb," he says. "And people don't want to put 50 or 60 apps on their phones. We want to find ways to turn this into a quick, easy process as more and more consumers shift to mobile."

Being firmly established within the retail ecosystem in the Columbus Region should go a long way to helping Klarna work out the kinks.

"We've got a big market with a lot of great creative, high quality engineers and other talent here," Billingsley says. "We can find and get the cream of the crop here in a market like Columbus."