6 Key Players in Asia’s Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) Battleground

6 Key Players in Asia’s Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) Battleground

by February 26, 2021

‘Buy now, pay later’ (BNPL) adoption is set to grow exponentially in the coming years with Asia Pacific (APAC) being the key driver.

A study by Coherent Market Insights estimates that the global BNPL was valued at US$7.3 billion in 2019, but is expected to reach US$33.6 billion in 2027, growing at an annual rate of 21.2% between 2020 and 2027. During the forecast period, APAC is set to be the fastest growing region owning to increasing mobile Internet users in the region.

Rising interest in BNPL have pushed regulators in jurisdictions including the UK and Singapore to begin looking deeper into the implications and risks associated with relevant solutions.

Earlier this month, a spokesperson for the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said they are “reviewing the appropriate regulatory approach” for BNPL solutions, stressing that such schemes could “result in overstretched finances and cause potential financial distress.”

In the UK, the government said on February 02, 2021 that interest-free BNPL agreements will be regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), citing an earlier review of the unsecured credit market which found potential harms for consumers.

Usage of BNPL products has grown tremendously over the past year amid COVID-19. In Britain, it nearly quadrupled in 2020, taking total lending to GBP 2.7 billion, with 5 million people taking advantage of them since the beginning of the pandemic. In Singapore, a study by financial comparison platform Finder found that about 38% of citizens, or 1.1 million people, have used a BNPL service.

In Asia, the BNPL market comprises incumbent banks that have launched interest-free BNPL solutions on top of credit card offerings, e-commerce platforms and retailers that are proposing their own payment installment systems, as well as independent fintech startups.

Today we look at six fintech startups from Asia that specialize in BNPL. These have made notable strides over the past years and are poised for further growth in the year to come.

Paidy (Japan)

paidy 1

Launched in 2014, Paidy is a Japanese fintech startup that provides point of sale (POS) financing to millions of Japanese consumers, requiring only their name, email address and mobile phone to transact.

The company uses proprietary machine learning algorithms to score creditworthiness, underwrite transactions and guarantee payment to merchants. At the end of each month, customers receive a consolidated bill that includes invoices for all purchases completed through Paidy during the last 30 days. These outstanding bills can be paid in full or via an installment plan in cash at a local convenience store, direct debit or via bank transfers.

Paidy currently provides its BNPL installment payment option to Amazon’s Japanese platform. The startup is backed by PayPal Ventures, Visa and Arbor Ventures among other, and has raised US$281 million in debt and equity so far.

Pine Labs (India)

Pine Labs

Pine Labs is an Indian merchant platform company that provides financing and last-mile retail transaction technology. The company’s payment platform processes easy monthly installment transactions across banks, tenures and product categories using a single POS terminal.

In India, Pine Labs is the leader in offline BNPL services with a 95% market share. It recently partnered up with Mastercard to further expand in Southeast Asia and bring its BNPL capabilities to Thailand and the Philippines in early 2021, followed shortly by Vietnam, Singapore and Indonesia.

Pine Labs currently powers nearly 35 different credit issuers, debit and credit cards, non-banking financial companies, and other organizations to deliver pay later services at about 150,000 merchant outlets all across India, covering about 100 different brands. Its key investors include Mastercard, Sequoia India, Actis Capital, Temasek, PayPal and Sofina.

Akulaku (Indonesia)


Founded in 2016, Akulaku is a fintech startup from Indonesia specialized in online credit, wealth management and digital banking. Akulaku started as a virtual credit card provider before building its own e-commerce platform, and branching into other business lines including wealth management and peer-to-peer (P2P) lending.

Akulaku’s online installment shopping platform support products from home appliances to travel and phone recharging services. It allows users to shop by using installments without needing to own a credit card.

Akulaku’s market share in the installment sector stands between 70% and 80%. As of July 2020, the company served a total of six million users and recorded annual transaction value of over US$1.5 billion.

Akulaku is headquartered in Pasig with operations in the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia.

Cashalo (Philippines)


Cashalo, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hong Kong-based fintech Oriente, is a consumer finance platform in the Philippines that provides access to credit both offline and online.

PayLater is Cashalo’s flexible credit line that customers can use for their everyday needs. Customers can avail any amount of their choosing within their credit line to purchase from Cashalo’s e-store or from the company’s partnered offline merchants.

Cashalo uses proprietary technology to assess the applicant’s capacity to pay back loans. After requesting a photo of an official ID, the app looks for other personal data. Once permission is granted, Cashalo will filter through the applicant’s messages to discover spending patterns.

Oriente was established in 2017 by the co-founders of Internet companies Skype and LU.com. It uses technology and data-science to bring financial services to Asia’s unbanked populations. Besides Cashalo, brands owned by Oriente include Finmas, a licensed digital lending platform in the Philippines, and Finizi, a licensed digital credit marketplace in Vietnam.

Atome (Singapore)


Atome is a leading BNPL platform that allows users to split their bills into three equal payments over two months. The mobile app is free to download and free to use for consumers: Atome charges zero interest and zero service fees.

Since its launch in 2019, Atome has grown into one of Asia’s largest BNPL platform. It’s partnered with over 2,000 online and offline retailers in six markets including Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Vietnam and mainland China. The startup recently inked a partnership with AsiaPay to expand its reach amongst online and offline merchants in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region.

Atome is part of Advance.AI, a Series-C AI-driven technology company headquartered in Singapore and with presence across Southeast Asia, India and mainland China.

hoolah (Singapore)



Founded in February 2018, hoolah is Asia’s leading omni-channel Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) company headquartered in Singapore. The BNPL provider ventured into Malaysia in 2019 and has since partnered with global and local merchants.

The platform allows consumers to buy what they need now, and pay later via 3 interest-free monthly repayments. In September 2020, hoolah extended its BNPL option to an in-store solution as well.

hoolah managed to secure an undisclosed amount of 8-figure capital injection during its Series A funding round led by Allectus Capital which is a venture firm that is part of private equity firm ICM.

Featured image credit: edited from Pexels