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Chasing BNPL unicorns: Top Buy Now Pay Later startups which crossed $1B in value

BNPL Unicorns

Being the hot new buzzword in consumer credit, BNPL is taking on payments as a whole. Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) is revolutionising customer payments by being seamlessly integrated into e-commerce as a checkout option.

Buy now, pay later services are aiming to disrupt the $8 trillion payments industry as more consumers purchase items, be it big or small, in three, four, or six installment payments.

The providers often charge no interest and no late fees in some cases, thereby making its adoption booming among Gen Z and millenials. On the other hand, even merchants welcome BNPL services as these help in boosting sales, improving conversion at checkout and saving interchange fees.

Companies like Klarna, Monzo Flex and others are already some big names in the BNPL industry. As per reports, VC investments in BNPL have surged to $4 billion in 2021 from $1.5 billion in 2020. The trend is following in 2022 as well and we have seen investments pouring into BNPL startups such as in3, ZoodPay, Tabby and others. While there are several hundreds of such startups, here TFN has listed some of the BNPL services that attained unicorn status recently.

Image credits: Scalapay

Scalapay (Italy)

Founder/s: Johnny Mitrevski, Simone Mancini
Founded year: 2019
Total funding: $412M

Scalapay is an innovative payment solution for e-commerce merchants across the globe that allows customers to buy now and pay later, without interest. Their BNPL offerings include three options for customers (Pay in 3, Pay in 4, and Pay Later). It does not require users to make any payments upfront, and can instead opt to pay in installments.

Last month, the BNPL for e-commerce merchants, Scalapay raised $497 million in a Series B funding round led by Tencent and Willoughby Capital, thereby attaining unicorn status.

Image credits: Zilch

Zilch (UK)

Founder/s: Philip Belamant
Founded year: 2018
Total funding: $230M

A fintech unicorn from London, Zilch is a Buy Now, Pay Later service that allows its customers to shop wherever Mastercard is accepted. Zilch also ensures responsible lending by combining Open Banking technology with soft credit checks to build a personalised affordability profile for each customer.

In November last year, Zilch secured $110 million funding in a Series C investment round, thereby reaching double unicorn status.

Image credits: Slice Founder Rajan Bajaj//LinkedIn

Slice (India)

Founder/s: Rajan Bajaj
Founded year: 2015
Total funding: $246M

Fintech unicorn Slice provides a number of credit cards predominantly targeting millennials and younger consumers. Its BNPL service lets users slice their bill into three parts without any additional charge. Also, there is no annual fee, joining fee or hidden charge. It offers credit limits ranging from ₹2k to ₹10L.

In November last year, Slice picked up $220 million in a Series B funding round from Tiger Global, Insight Partners and others to attain unicorn status.

Image credits: Atome

Atome (Singapore)

CEO: David Chen
Founded year: 2019
Total funding: $500M

Atome, a leading “buy now, pay later” brand that splits consumers’ bills into three equal, zero interest payments over time. It is the parent company of Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) firm Atome, which is a business unit under Advance Intelligence Group.

In October last year, Standard Chartered pumped in $500 million in financing to Atome to roll out BNPL services in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam.

Image credits: Paidy Founder Russell Cummer/LinkedIn

Paidy (Japan)

Founder/s: Russell Cummer
Founded year: 2008
Total funding: $333M

Paidy is a software platform that allows consumers to buy online without a credit card or pre-registration. Paidy’s payment service allows users to make purchases online, and then pay for them each month in a consolidated bill. As many Japanese consumers prefer not to use credit cards for online payments, this service can help vendors increase their conversion rates, average order values and repeat purchases.

In September 2021, PayPal Holdings, the US fintech company announced the acquisition of the Japanese BNPL service Paidy for nearly $2.7 billion to enhance its business in Japan.

Image credits: Affirm

Affirm (US)

Founder/s: Jeffrey Kaditz, Max Levchin, Nathan Gettings
Founded year: 2012
Total funding: $1.1B

US-headquartered Affirm provides shoppers an alternative to traditional credit cards at the point of sale, thereby giving them the flexibility to buy now and make simple monthly payments for their purchases. Unlike payment options that have compounding interest and unexpected costs, Affirm shows customers upfront exactly what they will pay each month with no hidden fees and no surprises.

In late 2020, Affirm bagged $500 million in a Series G funding round led by GIC, a returning investor, and Durable Capital Partners LP alongside other investors.

Pine Labs
Image credits: Pine Labs CEO Amrish Rau/LinkedIn

Pine Labs (India)

Founder/s: Rajul Garg, Tarun Upaday
Founded year: 1998
Total funding: $1.3B

Pine Labs offers a merchant platform that includes technology and financial solutions for merchants. The company’s cloud-based platform powers over 3,50,000 POS terminals across 3,700 cities and towns in India and Malaysia. It offers the best Buy Now, Pay Later offers that give customers the convenience of shop now, pay later through exciting bank and brand EMI offers.

The fintech company raised $150 million in a fresh round from Alpha Wave Global last month.

Image credits: Zip

Zip (Australia)

Founder/s: Larry Diamond, Peter Gray
Founded year: 2013
Total funding: $97.2M

Headquartered in Sydney, Zip is an online payments technology provider that offers consumers credit options for online shopping. The Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) company provides fair and seamless solutions that simplify how people pay. Notably, Zip is a preferred payment choice for over 9.9 million and growing active customers globally.

This BNPL unicorn from Australia invests in similar companies such as India-based ZestMoney and has acquired South African PayFlex.

Image credits: Sunbit

Sunbit (US)

Founder/s: Arad Levertov, Ornit Dweck-Maizel, Tal Riesenfeld, Tamir Hazan
Founded year: 2016
Total funding: $210Mm

Sunbit is a Buy Now, Pay Later service provider that lets retailers fulfil the needs of thousands of local communities. The California-based company eases the stress of buying everyday things by offering access to fast, fair, and transparent payment options to people across the credit spectrum. Sunbit’s technology is offered in-store and online through nearly 7,300 locations.

In May last year, Sunbit picked up a $130 million funding in its Series D round and attained unicorn status. The round was led by returning investor Group 11 alongside Zeev Ventures, and a slew of new investors.

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