BNPL’s Move Into Bigger Tickets Leads Players to Seek Slicker Outreach And Tighter Vetting

Digital Transactions

As the buy now, pay later trend moves upstream to higher-ticket markets, the assumption of bigger debt loads brings with it a need to communicate more closely with consumers. Point-of-sale credit, which took off in e-commerce during the pandemic, is reaching markets like health care, and on Wednesday a customer-communication utility called Weave said it has agreed to work with Sunbit, a BNPL provider, as it expands its business among dentists, veterinarians, eye doctors, and other medical practices.

The multi-year agreement calls for an integration of Sunbit’s technology into Weave’s platform to help reach users of the installment credit and offer payment terms. The integration is expected to help boost financing revenue, the companies say. Based in Lehi, Utah, Weave claims its communication platform is used by 23,000 business locations in the United States and Canada.

Los Angeles-based Sunbit, whose services are live at some 13,000 locations across the United States, says it has approved 90% of patients in the health-care sector of its business so far. The company’s aim is to allow patients to go ahead with transactions they would otherwise shy away from because of cost. “Too many patients are delaying dental care, new eyeglasses, or necessary pet surgery because of the upfront cost,” said Oded Vakrat, head of platform partnerships at the company, in a statement.

Sunbit isn’t the only BNPL provider moving into higher-ticket markets like health care. OpenPay Pty. Ltd. (OPY), an Australian company, has been expanding its operations in the U.S. market. In sharp contrast with the low-value POS loans that have characterized the BNPL craze of recent years, companies like OPY offer instant financing for big-ticket costs such as medical bills, automotive repair, home-improvement projects, and college tuition, said OPY’s U.S. chief executive, Brian Shniderman, earlier this month at a major payments conference in Nashville, Tenn., convened by Nacha, the governing body for the automated clearing house network.

The move is expected to expand BNPL volumes dramatically. Installment lending at the point of sale has grown from 14% of a $1.04 trillion unsecured U.S. lending market in 2016 to 23% of a $1.27 trillion market last year, according to figures Shniderman presented.

That market expansion has brought with it an enhanced need for tighter vetting. In a related announcement Wednesday, Prove Identity Inc. said it will help clients of Visa Inc.’s Ready for BNPL program to offer quicker registration of users through the automatic population of forms with verified identity data. As part of the move, Prove is joining the Ready for BNPL program.

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