Pictured, from left: Huyen Nguyen, Georg Steiger, and Ritche Weekun
BillEase, a card-free Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) platform in the Philippines, just secured $11 million on fresh equity in the Series B round funding. Operated by fintech firm First Digital Finance Corp. (FDFC), the fresh investments will be used to accelerate BillEase’s customer growth, enhance and develop new products, and attract top talent.
The Series B round is led by BurdaPrincipal Investments, the growth capital arm of German media and tech company Hubert Burda Media and a backer of Carsome, Ninja Van, and Zilingo, among others. Other investors in the round include Centauri, a joint investment vehicle of Telkom Indonesia’s MDI Ventures and KB Investment and backer of Kredivo, 33 Capital from Singapore, and Tamaz Georgadze, CEO and co-founder of European fintech unicorn Raisin DS, Europe’s leading marketplace for online deposits and investments.
“The Philippines is expected to be the fastest-growing e-commerce market in the ASEAN region over the next five years,” said Ritche Weekun, co-founder and CFO, FDFC.”The country is fast becoming a red hot destination for venture investments as large funds start looking beyond Indonesia and this, in turn, is driving the rapid development of the ecosystem. Our latest round of funding will help us grow at an unprecedented pace, allowing us to further increase financial inclusion in the country.”
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Launched in 2017, BillEase provides merchants with installment solutions to boost their conversion rate and average order values by enabling customized installment payment products at checkout. For consumers, BillEase serves as an alternative to credit/debit cards and e-wallets when shopping online.
BillEase customers are given a credit limit which they can use at any of BillEase’s over 500 merchant partners like gadgets retailer Kimstore or Philippine Airlines. Unlike traditional debit cards and e-wallets, customers do not have to top up before they can purchase online or offline. In addition to BNPL, the BillEase app, available in both Apple Store and Google Play, offers a suite of in-app services such as personal loans, e-Wallet top-ups to popular wallets like GCash, PayMaya, Coins.ph, GrabPay, and ShopeePay, mobile loads and gaming credits, as well as future plans to expand the offerings.
Credit and fraud models
“Our credit system is not a static setup, we continue to improve our credit and fraud models and incorporate new data points as they stream in,” said Huyen Nguyen, co-founder and COO, FDFC. “This allows us to offer interest rates that are often 50-70% lower than what other lending apps charge and instant approvals for 95% of our customers.”
FDFC was founded by Steiger and his ex-McKinsey & Company colleagues Weekun and Nguyen in 2015. The fintech startup launched its flagship brand BillEase with e-commerce giant Lazada as its first strategic merchant partner.
Among BillEase’s merchant partners are Philippine Airlines, Havaianas, Harman Kardon, and Coleman/Focus Global). The BNPL platform is also offered by five leading payment gateways: Xendit, Paynamics, 2C2P, Dragonpay, and UBX Philippines’ BUX, making it the most extensive BNPL in terms of reach in the country of 109 million people.
“At the heart, we are a technology and data-driven company,” Nguyen said. “We build and develop our own platform and that allows us to closely work with partners and rapidly deploy new features. We employ cutting-edge machine learning to make the best