Buy now, pay later is growing globally — with various companies expanding to, and in, different parts of the world, such as Africa, Latin America and Asia.
Here in the U.S., Affirm and Klarna are big players, and Square recently announced plans to acquire Afterpay, which also is eyeing growth here.
Traditional buy now, pay later (BNPL) gives consumers the opportunity to pay in installments at the point of sale, either online or, increasingly, in person as well. But even domestically, the ability to pay in installments is branching out beyond e-commerce and retail.
Wisetack is a startup that brings buy now, pay later to in-person services. And it just raised $45 million in a Series B funding round led by Insight Partners.
Existing backers Greylock Partners and Bain Capital Venture also participated in the financing, bringing the company’s total raised to $64 million since its 2018 inception. The latest round comes just six and a half months after Wisetack announced it had raised $19 million across its seed and Series A rounds, which were both led by Greylock.
In a nutshell, the San Francisco-based startup helps in-person businesses offer financing to consumers. Wisetack is not the first company to do this, but what makes it different, according to co-founder and CEO Bobby Tzekin, is that it actually embeds financing options into software platforms that businesses have already built out and are using in their operations.
Its focus is on service-based businesses, such as HVAC contractors or plumbers. For example, if your AC unit goes out and costs thousands to replace, you could have the option of paying for it in installments if the contractor has Wistack’s API embedded into its site.
So far, Wisetack has been able to grow rapidly by partnering with vertical SaaS businesses such as Housecall Pro and Jobber. Those companies offer consumer financing to their respective customer base, which include tens of thousands of home services professionals.
Wisetack clearly seems to be filling a gap. So far in 2021, it has grown its revenue and loan volume “over 10x” compared to 2020. And it works with thousands of merchants, according to Tzekin.
The executive left his job in 2018 to start Wisetack because he felt there was “clearly a massive need,” teaming up with Liz O’Donnell and Mykola Klymenko (who was co-founder and CTO at VaroMoney, the holding company of Varo Bank).
With its new capital, Wisetack plans to expand into other service-based verticals, such as auto repair, elective medical, dental and veterinary and legal services. It also plans to double its team of 40 over the next year.
To Tzekin, the opportunity is huge.
Most service businesses are SMBs, which have historically been harder to serve than large e-commerce players. Americans spend more than $400 billion a year on residential renovations and repairs alone, according to this Harvard report. And the United States automotive repair and maintenance services market is projected to reach $250 billion by 2026, up from $201 billion in 2020.
And while the average BNPL online transaction is a few hundred dollars, purchases made to service-based businesses average closer to $4,000 to $5,000, according to Tzekin.
The CEO believes that buy now, pay later can be more attractive than paying for such purchases with a credit card, for a few reasons. For one, consumers have the option of paying in installments for anywhere from three months to 60 months.
“This often means it’s more affordable to buy the better piece of equipment since they can spread the costs over time,” he said.
Also, just how much they will be paying over time will be made clear at the time of purchase, whereas when paying with a credit card, the amount could vary depending on interest rates and how long it takes to pay the money back, Tzekin added.
The company makes money by charging a processing fee to merchants, as well as charging interest to consumers — which can be anywhere from 0% to 29%, “depending on how good their credit is,” Tzekin said.
“But credit cards charge compounded interest, whereas we charge simple interest,” he added.
Insight Partners Principal Rebecca Liu-Doyle describes Wisetack as “a standout in the industry.”
“Wisetack has a differentiated platform for embedded BNPL that is purpose-built to address use cases that are both more complex and less well-served than e-commerce,” she wrote via email.