The rise of Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) players is rapidly transforming the shopping experience. On the flipside, it is also changing the way businesses approach payments. Big ticket items are now made more affordable as consumers can opt to split the cost over a number of interest-free instalments.
While a flexible payment solution has clear-cut benefits for consumers, retail merchants are also riding the BNPL wave as it offers a slew of business advantages such as an uptick in consumer spend, the opportunity to penetrate a younger demographic thanks to the lower purchase barrier and accelerated sale conversions.
Despite being a relatively new category in Southeast Asia, the BNPL space is booming. Based on a study by Mashable SE Asia, the BNPL market cap in the SEA region is set to grow from US$7.3 billion in 2019 to a whopping US$33.6 billion in 2027. Given the onslaught of competitors vying for a slice of the BNPL pie, we gather the region’s frontrunners and find out how they stand out amongst their peers.
Founded in November 2020, ReePay is one of the first BNPL players in Vietnam. Today, it is set to take the industry by storm. According to research conducted by Research and Markets in 2020, the BNPL gross merchandise value in Vietnam will grow from $207 million in 2020 to $4.33 billion by 2028. Since its inception, Reepay plans to target Vietnam’s 80 million consumers by boosting digital transactions, improving cash flow management and ultimately helping drive business for ReePay’s merchants.
BNPL players witnessed a tremendous increase in growth despite weathering a pandemic-battered year. Akulaku, an Indonesian digital consumer finance platform and BNPL powerhouse, is no exemption. In h2 2021, it saw a 153% increase in revenue (US$274 million) as compared to the same period last year. With over US$218 million raised in four equity rounds and a projected amount of US$100 million to follow in its pre-IPO round, Akulaku is in the running of becoming SEA’s next unicorn. Besides Indonesia, Akulaku is also operating in Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines.
Arguably one of the most recognisable Singaporean-based BNPL startups, hoolah made headlines when it successfully raised an eight-figure amount in its Series A fundraising round. This came on the heels of an unprecedented growth that saw a 600% increase in order volume from May 2020 to May 2021. With a presence across e-commerce platforms in Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia, the funds raised will finance aggressive expansion efforts and help establish hoolah as a formidable omnichannel solution, both online and in-store.
Cashalo is the first venture launched by Hong Kong-based fintech startup, Oriente. Since the arrival of its mobile app in 2018, Cashalo has since evolved from targeting underserved Filipino customers with access to credit to cutting-edge BNPL solutions. Customers are able to complete their Cashacart profile and get pre-approval on their loan before shopping at one of the venture’s merchant partners一pegged at 0% interest. Together with the startup’s Finmas app in Indonesia, Oriente’s merchant partners experienced a 20% growth in sales volume. To date, the fintech boasts a combined total of 5 million users across the Philippines and Indonesia.
The most mass market player out of the bunch, Atome has entered nine markets (namely Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, Hong Kong, China, Malaysia, Taiwan and Philippines) and boasts over 3,000 merchant partners across a wide range of categories since its launch in 2019. Some key partners include Charles & Keith, Agoda and Zara. Seeing as Atome’s partners have found a 25% increase in their sales and transactions numbers, it is no surprise that the BNPL provider has managed to clinch the Technology Excellence Award for Payments in the fintech category back in May 2021.
Plentina is a young and rising fintech that is looking to ride the BNPL wave in the Philippines with a twist 一 the instalments can be paid directly and conveniently via e-wallets. Since its inception in October 2020, the app has had more than 30,000 downloads and raised US$2.2 million in its latest seed round. With plans to increase its merchant partners locally before setting its sight into expanding further across the SEA region, Plentina is focused on penetrating emerging markets where there’s a lack of credit score history. This is done via machine learning models to help determine a user’s creditworthiness.
Pine Labs might just be the most senior company on the list, having been established as far back as 1998. Headquartered in Mumbai, the leading merchant payment platform recently raised US$600 million in funding, effectively elevating the company’s valuation at around US$3.5 billion. Since acquiring Fave in April, Pine Labs provides payment solutions to over 40,000 merchants and over 6 million customers in Southeast Asia, India and the Middle East. To date, the fintech has racked up a combined US$3 billion in annualized BNPL transactions that’s only looking to grow as it brings its Pay Later solutions to more countries across the region such as Thailand and Indonesia.
As an advocate for responsible spending, Rely is a Singapore based fintech that uses advanced algorithms to find out a customer’s unique spending capacity. This ensures that Rely customers are able to safely manage their instalment payments. In December 2020, the fintech received financing of up to S$100 million from Polaris, Goldbell Financial Services’ strategic partnerships arm. On top of that, Rely has also partnered with Lendlease in order to bring BNPL solutions to 313@somerset, a shopping mall along Singapore’s Orchard belt. Rely’s future plans include onboarding more merchants across South Korea, Malaysia and Singapore.
Launched in 2016, Kredivo, an Indonesia-based AI-enabled digital credit and lending platform has made significant headway. To date, it has raised a total of US$200 million financing facility from Victory Park Capital (VPC)一its highest fundraising round yet. The secured funding will be used to propel Kredivo to new markets and achieve its goal of serving 10 million customers within Indonesia itself. It’s BNPL solutions, while useful to alleviate the upfront cost of a purchase, are also seen as a way to build and improve one’s credit score. This is particularly impactful in Indonesia where a majority of its population are under-banked with low credit card penetration. Currently, Kredivo has upwards of four million approved customers and secured merchant partnerships with eight out of the 10 top e-commerce platforms in Indonesia.
Backed by world-class investors the likes of Silicon Valley’s 500 Startups, Entrepreneur First as well as AccorHotels Asia Pacific Deputy CEO Louise Daley, Split gives its retailers access to customers from Malaysia’s local banks. The latest figures from the fintech saw RM10 million in total combined transactions for local retailers within a span of months. According to the folks at Split, its stable of more than 250 merchant partnerships are seeing a boost in revenue, sale conversions and traffic from offering its BNPL solutions to their customers.
Launched in January 2021, the Singapore-based BNPL provider has its sights set on extending its offerings across the greater Asia Pacific region, currently available in over 900 points-of-sale in Singapore, Thailand, Macau and Malaysia. Recently, Pace inked a regional partnership with luxury goods specialist Valiram that allows it to provide its BNPL solutions to over 20 international brands. On top of that, it secured an eight figure debt financing round led by Genesis Alternative Ventures. Notably, Turochas “T” Fuad, Pace’s founder and CEO, is a serial entrepreneur with multiple businesses under his belt.