Consumer finance app accelerates PH business

Published April 19, 2022, 11:49 AM

by Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

BillEase, the card-free buy now, pay later (BNPL) and consumer finance app in the Philippines, announced that it has closed a $20-million debt facility from Lendable, an emerging market credit provider, to further accelerate the growth of its business in the Philippines.

In a statement, the company said that the new funding is on top of the recent $11 million Series B equity raised from Burda Principal Investments, MDI Ventures, KB Investment, among others, and bringing the total fresh funds to $31 million.

“This facility is a further validation of our business and the platform our team has built over the past few years and helps to firmly position BillEase as the leading BNPL brand in the Philippines,” said Georg Steiger, CEO and Co-Founder of First Digital Finance Corporation (FDFC) which operates the BillEase app. “With Lendable’s support, we will be able to continue the strong growth in customer onboarding and expand our loan portfolio. We share the same focus on creating financing solutions that serve the emerging consumer segment as the Lendable team and we are excited to work with them to further financial inclusion in the Philippines.”

The company is currently offering what Georg describes as a BNPL+ app, a one-stop shop for financial services for both consumers and retailers. “We continuously invest in building out our product. Beyond BNPL or installment purchase, we now offer products such as low-cost cash loans, e-Wallet top-ups to all major wallets like GCash, PayMaya, Coins.ph, GrabPay, and ShopeePay, prepaid mobile load, and gaming credits which attracts a strong following especially among the younger generation,” Steiger added. For merchants, the fintech provider offers omnichannel payment solutions that help both online and offline retailers provide customizable installment plans to attract and retain customers.

The key to the company’s success since launching BillEase in 2017 continues to be the strength of its team in building an AI-driven underwriting and an intuitive user experience. “Our recent success is a direct result of having a clear focus: to build a product that enables and delights our customers and helps them achieve upward financial mobility to improve their lives. And we are incredibly grateful for their talent and dedication to the mission,” Steiger said.

As of Q1 2022, BillEase volumes were up almost 5x compared to the same period last year and the company already achieved profitability in 2021. “We believe that financial inclusion needs to be sustainable. We enjoy very strong unit economics and this is really driven by two factors: First, predictive risk models that allow us to automate almost all of our loan approvals and keep process and risk cost low and second our loyal customer base. Customers stick with us because we continue to invest in building out our product and we can pass on savings and offer low rates,” Steiger said.

The company has grown its merchant partners from only 100 merchants a year ago to over 700 merchants which includes local and international brands.

The Philippines has recently attracted increased interest from investors, especially in the fintech space and this is primarily due to the potential impact fintech startups have on the lives of the emerging middle-class population. “The Philippines represents a very large and untapped opportunity for fintech. The population is young, tech savvy and largely underbanked. Several regulatory initiatives are coming together to significantly improve market infrastructure – instant retail payment networks, National ID, national credit bureau, digital banking licenses just to name a few. Adoption of digital transactions also just got a massive push through the extended lockdowns. I think we are starting to see the shape of things to come but we are barely scratching the surface. This will be one of the most exciting fintech markets globally over the next 5 years.” Steiger said.

 
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