When Mohammad AlMheiri and Badr AlBadr founded Splintr, their start-up buy now, pay later (BNPL) in Dubai in 2019, their goal was to encourage financial inclusion and help users gain financial skills. smart money to better manage their finances.
However, taking BNPL’s traditional business model – which typically allows consumers to shop online instantly and spread payments over a series of interest-free installments – to the next level was also at the forefront of their ambitions for stand out from what has started to become a crowded market in the Middle East.
While Splintr will offer customers the typical BNPL payment model, it will also offer a “try now, buy later” option and will not charge late fees for missed payments, said Mr. AlMheiri, the Managing Director. Emirati of the start-up, which has experience in FinTech and e-commerce.
“We see ourselves as a little different from what’s out there right now,” he says.
“The second checkout experience is a try-before-you-buy experience, where you can buy what you want online, pay a fraction of the full amount, then have the order shipped to your doorstep, keep what you want, and return what you don’t without being charged for the entire product.
The global BNPL sector has exploded since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, as consumers turned to online shopping during movement restrictions.
In the UAE, the BNPL sector is expected to grow by around 89% on an annual basis to reach $1.8 billion in 2022, according to a report by Research and Markets.
“This shift in overall consumer behavior, along with the rise of digital payment solutions, is making buy now, pay later one of the fastest growing payment methods in the country,” says The report.
According to a survey by Checkout.com, around half of all consumers in the UAE expect to shop online more often, while 60% of respondents prefer digital payment channels over cash on delivery.
Established BNPL players in the UAE include Mubadala-backed Tabby, which raised $150 million in debt funding last month, as well as Postpay, Cashew, Spotii and Tamara.
The largest BNPL companies in the world are Sweden’s Klarna, Australia’s Afterpay and San Francisco-based Affirm.
Apple has also jumped on the BNPL bandwagon, announcing at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference in June that Apple Pay Later will be integrated with Apple Wallet and will ship with the iOS 16 operating system for iPhone, which is due out next Wednesday. .
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While the global BNPL sector has faced challenges this year due to global economic uncertainty, the industry is expected to grow 10 to 15 times its current volume by 2025, surpassing $1 trillion in annual gross merchandise volume, according to a report by New York data research consultancy CB Insights.
“This growth trajectory is causing incumbents to pay close attention and intensify their efforts to improve the digital user experience,” the report said.
Meanwhile, global BNPL transaction values are expected to reach $576 billion by 2026, up from $120 billion in 2021, according to data analytics firm GlobalData.
The BNPL sector accounted for 2.3% of the global e-commerce market in 2021, with $2 out of every $100 spent on a BNPL transaction, according to the report, with millennials and Gen Z driving the adoption of e-commerce. BNPL payments.
The market is ‘extremely huge’ – and there is room for new BNPL companies that offer something different from established players, says Splintr’s Mr AlMheiri
“I give credit to the first wave of BNPL raising that level of awareness, but I think it’s now our turn to present BNPL in its pure form — as a financial management tool,” says -he.
“Our roadmap is basically designed to create a payment solution for the customer; we can do that not just with e-commerce, but across different verticals. »
Mr. AlMheiri and Mr. AlBadr originally started Splintr, which is an amalgamation of the words “splinter” and “transaction”.
Since then, however, they’ve raised an undisclosed seven-figure sum through their network of angel investors, family and friends, which has been used to build the app and hire a “very talented team”.
The partners plan to launch Splintr, which is licensed by the Dubai International Financial Centre, in the coming weeks in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the two largest economies in the Arab world.
Its revenue model is based on charging merchants for transactions, while customers can choose between three, four or six monthly installment plans.
Splintr avoids listing large retailers on the platform, opting instead to focus on working with small and medium merchants to deliver an “excellent level of service not only to the customer but also to the merchant,” Mr. AlMheiri.
“Our approach to merchants was quite different…currently we have a decent number of merchants. It’s growing every week – the adoption is amazing,” he says.
Through the launch of Splintr, Mr. AlMheiri also hopes to inspire the BNPL industry to reduce its late penalties and change the way it markets itself.
“BNPLs shouldn’t be marketed as ‘buy what you can’t afford’,” he says.
“It should be marketed as planning your finances better, spreading those payments over the period that works best for you.
“[They] should also create a real transparent solution for customers – when you say no hidden fees, you mean no late fees. Splintr is the only one that does not charge a fee and I encourage everyone to do the same…customers can take advantage of our services at no cost.
Meanwhile, Splintr’s long-term goal is to become the region’s next Apple Pay, AlMheiri said.
“I think what Apple Pay has done to payments is unprecedented, regionally and globally. And I aspire to be the Apple Pay of belief,” he says.
“I want Splintr to grow in a way where it’s essential and used by every customer just for convenience, something you trust, believe in and use in your daily life. .”
Q&A with Mohammad AlMheiri, co-founder and managing director of Splintr
Who is your role model?
My late father must be my first role model. He enlisted in me most of the values that I know today. He was blessed to be one of the few men to work closely with His Highness Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum in the early days of Dubai, so a big part of my childhood was hearing stories about the way Sheikh Rashid conducted himself, how he led the people around him and Sheikh Rashid continued to provide that role model that I admire.
Watch: Tributes mark 30th anniversary of Sheikh Rashid’s death
What was the biggest lesson you learned creating Splintr?
People are a crucial element [of start-ups] and we don’t talk about it in the founder ecosystem. You think it’s the money, you think it’s the technology, you think it’s the market, but it’s the people. You need to have the right people around you… and the right network. You must also have the ability to learn how you might choose the wrong people to work with initially.
If you had the opportunity to start all over again, what would you do differently?
I don’t think there is anything specific or different. I feel like we’re positioned exactly where I want us to be positioned.
There were a lot of things out of my control – working 10 hours, the change in the venture capital culture we had, this generous time.
Now everyone, to some degree, is becoming more conservative, looking for the true value of their investments. I think that’s great for us because we’re now entering a phase with both the enterprise side and the start-up side that’s much more realistic, which is working to our advantage, [with] clear goals and a clear path to profitability.
Has the pandemic affected your business?
It certainly had a good impact on the ecosystem in terms of acceleration. But this acceleration was far too fast and will now slow down over the next two years. The pandemic has definitely changed me. I was not – shall we say – a big proponent of remote working, but I have been working from my home office since the pandemic began.
My whole team is distributed internationally, not just locally. So, I think the pandemic made me change my mind.
How do you see the company in the next five years?
I wish we were – and I think we will be – the next Apple Pay in the region. We will be as convenient as Apple Pay. But that’s way beyond five years.
Our goal is to build something that would last 100 years… I know it’s too ambitious but that’s where you have to set the goal. Credit cards were introduced in the 1930s. They still exist today and it’s relatively simple [payment method].
We are well on our way to changing the way payments are made. This is what we want to achieve and I hope we will, inchallah.
Updated: September 05, 2022, 04:30