Discussing the Buy Now, Pay Later industry in Asia – interview with Atome

Tuesday 14 September 2021 09:56 CET | Editor: Claudia Pincovski | Interview

David Chen, CEO of Atome, dives into the Buy Now, Pay Later industry in Asia, sharing how Atome drives retail business growth and its vision as merchant enabler.

Let’s dive in a bit into the Buy Now, Pay Later industry in Asia, first. How does this payment method perform in the region as far as acceptance and adoption are concerned?

First of all, Asia is a highly fragmented region and very different from mature regions/markets like AU, US or EU where most people are banked and have access to financial services.

In markets such as Indonesia, Thailand or Vietnam, the majority of the consumers do not have access to credit and are either unbanked or underbanked.

The other big difference is that in many parts of Asia, Cash on Delivery and offline retail are still a big part of the shopping experience. So, this means having to think about the physical store checkout, training retail staff, signage to ensure a seamless customer experience.

Therefore, Atome provides these consumers with a payment option – three zero-interest payments over 3 months – using our highly transparent, safe, secure, and easy-to-use mobile app.

Account setup and the eKYC risk profile/assessment is completed in real-time and takes between 2 to 5 minutes over the smartphone, so it is very quick and convenient.

We are seeing very positive responses in Asia where we are present in 9 markets: Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Thailand, and mainland China.

Across the region, we partner with over 5,000 leading online and offline retailers (e.g. Agoda, Sephora, ZALORA, Zara, Aldo, Furla, and Marks & Spencer). We have over 20 million registered customers and disbursed USD 1 billion over 15 million transactions as part of the Advance Intelligence Group, our parent company.

What benefits does Atome bring to the table for both merchants and consumers that stand out from what other BNPL providers offer?

We are Asia’s leading Buy Now, Pay Later platform with the highest number of markets covered.

Our regional coverage is a big advantage. Merchants look to us to help them scale their business across multiple markets and reduce go-to-market complexity. They would rather work with one provider vs multiple partners in different markets.

We also leverage our AI technology and understanding of user behaviour data to provide personalised shopping recommendations to Atome users resulting in high quality leads to our merchant partners.

For consumers, we help them to make better decisions on smart and responsible spending and provide exclusive deals, tips, and advice on how they can shop and pay smart. Our Atome app has a 4.8-star rating on App Store and Google Play store rating and speaks to our focus on ensuring a superior user experience, service, and satisfaction.

Lastly, for a BNPL provider to build a healthy, long-term, and sustainable business in this region, its risk management and credit profiling technology has to be very robust.

We have deep experience in this area and this region. The core expertise of our sister company, ADVANCE.AI, is in AI-based credit risk profiling and assessment. Through our technology, we can minimise application and transaction rejections, and weed out bad actors/fraud.

Moreover, how does Atome drive retail business growth for merchants?

We see ourselves as a merchant enabler, and not just a payment option. Atome can be integrated across websites, apps, and physical offline stores as an omnichannel solution to drive business growth. With the COVID-19 pandemic, the adoption of e-payment, and consumers opting for omnichannel retailing is accelerating.

Many young consumers in Asia may not have access, or increasingly prefer not to use credit cards or upfront cash to make full payments. By partnering with Atome, merchants can now reach out to this group of consumers.

We also assist merchants through digital marketing, supporting them with tools to digitalise their services, and helping them to better understand their consumer base (e.g. behaviours, demographics), especially in offline settings.

In return for a small commission per transaction, our merchant partners have seen an average increase of 17% in their ticket order size, as well as an increase in conversions at checkout of 30%.

Could you please elaborate on the company’s strategy behind its rapid expansion across Asia?

Part of it is driven by demand from our regional partners to scale our solution in multiple markets, but it is also about our ability to deploy localised solutions and expand rapidly because of our experience and network in this region. So, we are always looking to grow our merchant breadth and depth across key categories and markets, especially with popular leading retail brands or online platforms.

With that, we’re able to also deepen our user base and provide them with access and affordability to quality products and services. This in turn also benefits our merchant partners and drives merchant value.

Could you please share with us any plans for this year and beyond, perhaps in terms of further expansion and services’ upgrades?

We’re currently operating in 9 markets and now we want to focus on growing our merchant base across key categories and see where we can drive value for global and regional retailers.

We also want to keep building and improving the Atome experience by listening closely to customer feedback and ensuring they have a superior and sustained customer experience. For example, we just launched Atome+, our own rewards programme.

We’re also developing deeper features and products to help merchants grow their business with real-time store analytics as they emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.

This article is part of the Payment Methods Report 2021 – Latest Trends in Payment Preferences, a comprehensive overview of the payment methods in scope for 2021, as well as best practices for checkout optimisation and customer conversion by addressing digital transformation, security, and localisation.

About David Chen

David Chen is the CEO of Atome and holds a PhD in Computer Science from the University of Washington. He spent six years as a tenured professor in Singapore before starting several tech startups. Before teaching, he worked with top technology brands including Yahoo!, Microsoft, and Amazon.

About Atome

Atome is a leading Buy Now, Pay Later brand in Asia, partnering retailers to increase conversions and grow average orders and customer segments. It currently partners over 5,000 retailers in nine markets. For consumers, Atome offers choice, convenience, and flexibility in how they choose to shop and pay.

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Keywords: Atome, BNPL, payment methods, merchants, retail
Categories: Payments & Commerce
Countries: Asia
This article is part of category

Payments & Commerce