ATOME Financials Singapore Pte. Ltd., operator of the eponymous “Buy Now Pay Later” (BNPL) brand in Southeast Asia, is seeing a conservative growth in the Philippines this year, after its total gross merchandise value (GMV) has increased by three ten-folds since its launch in late 2021.
“Growing merchant sales by 30 times in our first year is strong testament to BNPL’s value proposition, especially among younger, tech-savvy Gen Zs and Millennials,” Atome Philippines General Manager Zine Nedil said during a news briefing last Tuesday.
Pressed on their 2023 growth target being “a bit conservative,” the top executive emphasized that it “relies on a lot of business aspects.”
“Due to macro external factors, we’re being a bit more cautious and aiming for steady, sustainable business growth versus all-out growth,” Nedil told the BusinessMirror. “Depending on merchant network expansion and take-up of our new products, e.g. [example given], Atome Card, multi-tenure launch, we are looking at between five to eight times growth.”
BNPL, which is a point-of-sale, interest-free deferred payment over time, is seen as one of the fastest growing channels globally, mostly used by Gen Zs and Millennials. In the Philippines, its transaction volume in e-commerce is expected to balloon at a whopping 568 percent to $2.5 billion in the next three years. Its Filipino users are expected to rise three times from 5.2 million last year to possibly almost 17.6 million by 2026.
Nedil attributed such bullish prospects to the country’s young population, swift technology adoption by consumers, and government support for online businesses. He added that the fact that this service is available in both online and offline “makes it a seamless experience for the consumers.”
Atome, which is part of Singapore-based tech unicorn Advance Intelligence Group, started to operate locally in October of 2021. Since then, its retail network has grown by eight times, to include more than 1,500 online and offline retailers across fashion, beauty, travel, electronics and sports. Its total offline footprint has expanded to almost 7,000 brick-and-mortar stores nationwide.
Beyond BNPL, the company also introduced Atome Card in the Philippines last August 2022—the first among its eight markets in the region to launch such product—to further provide affordable loan among the unbanked and underbanked.
“Knowing the fact that access in credit in the Philippines is still a bit complicated for some people, then we have 120,000 registrations during the pilot phase,” the GM said of the positive market response to this product that gives cardholders—of which 70 percent are Gen Zs and Millennials—a pre-approved credit line of up to P200,000.
At present, Atome Philippines’ top selling categories are fashion, lifestyle and accessories, and travel. For improved overall user experience, it has an in-app loyalty rewards program Atome+ which allows consumers to earn points when they check out using Atome, to offset future purchases, as well as redeem rewards and experiences.
Looking forward, the firm seeks to grow its merchant network between 2,000 to 2,500 by end of this year. It also plans to move beyond pay-in-three deferred payments, and will soon launch multi-tenures plans of six and 12 months respectively, in response to strong demand and interest from both retailers and consumers.
Despite the external factors the company has no control of, Nedil remains upbeat about the country’s immense potential for growth. He said: “In terms of size, population, offline outlets, merchants, brands, and sellers, the potential is just massive.”