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Walmart’s fintech startup One to launch buy now, pay later loans

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A walmart-the supported startup seeks to compete with companies buy now, pay later.

The company, called One, is preparing to launch its own version of the payment service as early as next year, according to a source familiar with the matter.

One, majority-owned by Walmart, wants to launch a service that shoppers could use on Walmart’s website and stores, as well as other retailers, the source said. The effort was driven in part by a tougher economic backdrop and consumers feeling squeezed by inflation.

Actions to buy now, pay later firm To affirm fell Friday. Walmart declined to comment.

One is breaking into the growing payment services category as monthly retail sales figures continue to rise, but some Americans are showing signs of strain due to inflation driving up the prices of food, housing and more. These stretched wallets could fuel consumers’ interest in paying for their purchases in another way. Buy now, pay later allows customers to gradually pay off a purchase with fixed monthly payments, plus interest.

Retail executives, including Walmart CEO Doug McMillon, have spoken of even wealthier consumers feeling hurt by inflation. About 75% of the retailer’s market share gains in groceries come from households that earned more than $100,000 in the past two quarters.

In an interview with CNBC this week, McMillon said customers were feeling stressed.

“We have more budget-conscious clients who have been under inflationary pressure for months,” he told CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” “This sustained pressure in certain categories, I think, is something customers have to deal with as Christmas approaches.”

Retail giant Walmart enters the space

News of the Walmart-backed startup’s interest in Buy Now, Pay Later was first reported by The Information.

Walmart, the nation’s largest private employer and largest grocer, has long offered financial services in many of its stores. It has a financial center where customers can access banking services, such as printing checks, sending or receiving money, or loading prepaid debit cards. Many of these services are aimed at low-income families, who don’t have a relationship with a traditional bank, or don’t have the credit history to qualify for credit cards.

Last year, Walmart went further by creating and backing a fintech startup with Ribbit Capital, one of the investment firms behind Robinhood. The fintech startup is independent, but Walmart has the largest stake. Its board also includes several senior executives, including Walmart’s US CEO John Furner and CFO John David Rainey. Rainey, Walmart’s new CFO, recently joined the board and is the former CFO of PayPal.

Since Walmart created and backed the startup in early 2021, it’s grown bigger. It acquired two other fintech startups, One and Even, for an undisclosed amount earlier this year. It adopted the name One and aims to be an all-in-one app where consumers can manage their money.

One is headed by Omer Ismail, who ran Goldman Sachs’ consumer bank. It also includes other Goldman veterans.

Buy now, pay later has become a more crowded space, with companies like Affirm, PayPalKlarna and AfterPay all offer their own versions. Apple also announced plans to launch its own buy now, pay later option, Apple Pay Later.

Walmart already offers a buy-it-now, pay-later option to customers through Affirm. Before the last holiday season, it ended its layaway program and replaced it with buy now, pay later financing.

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