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BillEase – A Philippines Startup scores $11M Series B

BillEase is a Philippines-based buy-now-pay-later startup. It announced recently that it has raised an $11 million Series B. BurdaPrincipal Investments, the growth capital arm of Hubert Burda Media led the round. Other participants included Centauri, a joint investment vehicle between MDI Ventures and KB Investment, and Tamaz Georgadze, CEO and co-founder of Raisin DS.

What is BillEase?

BillEase was launched in 2017 and is operated by fintech First Digital Finance Corporation. Along with shopping marketplace Lazada as its first merchant partner. It can now be used at more than 500 merchants. Including consumer electronics sellers Kimstore and Philippine Airlines. Its BNPL is also available through payment gateways Xendit, Paynamics, 2C2P, Dragonpay, and BUX. Furthermore, it offers an app with personal loans. And top-ups for digital wallets like GCash, PayMaya, Coins.ph, GrabPay, and Shopee Pay. As well as mobile phone and gaming credits.

The payment sector of the Philippines is fragmented. Hence, customers can pay back their BNPL loans in a variety of ways, including digital wallets, bank transfers, direct debit, linking their bank account, or over-the-counter payments in physical stores like 7-Eleven.

Plans with the funding

The new funding brings BillEase’s total raised to about $15 million in equity. And the company plans to use the funding for customer acquisition, developing new products, and hiring.

One of the main ways BillEase differentiates from other BNPL services in the Philippines is that it allows customers to build formal credit records.

Georg Steiger, First Digital Financial Corporation’s co-founder, and CEO said that BillEase’s target segment is the Philippines’ emerging middle class, specifically Gen Z and millennials who are early in their careers. “About 80% of our customers are new to the formal credit system and do not have a credit record.

For those customers, BillEase also serves as an on-ramp to the financial system. It is the only credit app in the Philippines that is a member of TransUnion. It is also part of the state-owned Credit Information Corporation.

How BillEase is different?

Apart from enabling customers to build formal credit records, it had another differentiator. It is that BillEase built and owns its credit, fraud, and payment software stack, and can approve more than 90% of BNPL loans instantly with its model. This means shorter checkout times and also enables BillEase to offer lower interest rates, at about 3.49% compared to 7% to 12% for other BNPL loans, Steiger said. It gives merchants customizable installment plans. For example, they can offer BNPL repayment terms of 10 to 30 days for smaller purchases, payment in four installments, or monthly payments for larger purchases, and decide if those loans will be interest-free or not.

Because most of BillEase’s customers don’t have a credit record, it uses “a wide variety of alternative data sources to triangulate and get a good picture of our customers,” including telecom usage, phone metadata, network data, and behavioral data points,” Steiger said.

“Credit scoring is also something we constantly tinker with,” he added. “As new data comes in or new variables become available, we upgrade our models. At any given time we usually run a few A/B tests to test new models or process improvements.”

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