Payl8r is a millennial buy now, pay later finance firm based that aims to become a £1bn fin-tech business within five years. It was launched in 2015 to provide a line of credit to millennials and those with no credit history, in a safe and ethical way. It is now not only the first and oldest buy now, pay later firm, but also one of the market leaders.
How did you come up with the idea for the company?
I can’t take credit for the concept – a buy now, pay later business aimed at millennials – the idea was conceived initially by our brilliant CEO Louis Alexander who spent many months persuading me to launch the business for him. I’ll always be grateful to him for allowing me the opportunity and believing in me. Together, we’ve built something amazing and fortunately, I didn’t lose any of his money! It’s five years on now and we’re both extremely proud that we were the first and are now actually the oldest buy now, pay later firm in the UK. Hopefully, this is just the beginning.
Anyone that knows me would tell you that I don’t do things by half. I threw myself into a totally new industry. Quickly adapting, learning developing my skills. Taking the business from zero to a multi-million-pound fin-tech with over 30 employees. And like the business, I’m still growing.
Payl8r was originally named The Student Finance Company. And back in the day nobody was touching millennial finance. I knew from my own experience that it was hard for millennials to borrow money. I was earning a decent salary in my mid-twenties but wouldn’t have been able to access loans or credit cards. There was a huge growth potential here and technology was the key to disrupting the market.
As Managing Director, I oversaw an innovative and quite revolutionary approach to assessing customers’ affordability. Payl8r has pioneered a proprietary tech platform that underwrites customers at the point of sale using open banking. It is the only retail finance company to do this, and we have done it from day one.
Millennials don’t want credit cards and don’t like banks, they prefer to use point of sale pay later options like ours, as this can give them more flexibility with their finances and improve their credit score. Young adults find it hard to get finance because they’ve not had a chance to build their credit rating, despite most of them having the funds to pay back loans in a responsible and timely manner – Payl8r gives them that opportunity. It is the opposite of banks. I want to help millennials and do so, both ethically fairly and responsibly. My aim has always been to revolutionise and transform the way we view credit and the way we get credit – making it much more transparent.
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How has the company evolved during the pandemic?
Part of my job is reviewing and analysing trends and movements in the business, including external changes. When the pandemic hit, my reaction was not to stop lending like everyone else but to find a way to continue supporting both online merchants and their customers.
Of course, the business had to change and tighten a few things in the early months while the team evaluated and created new products that were suitable for a Covid landscape. We updated our underwriting to accommodate for customers’ new situations, increased deposits required, reduced loan terms and loan values available to minimise the risk to the business and end customers. This approach enabled us to continue to offer consumers options at point of checkout while maintaining a healthy business throughout lockdown with record collection figures.
One thing I’m really proud of is that Payl8r will often provide finance to students undertaking training courses, in order to provide them with the right skills and qualifications to gain employment. This has been a godsend in the pandemic for many millennials who might have been turned away by more traditional lenders. Lending on training courses is one of the key pillars of our business and it’s fantastic that we’re able to help young people either train for the first time or retrain, particularly through the pandemic when so many people have lost their jobs. It’s great to be able to lend to ambitious millennials who want to upskill and find work.
What can we hope to see from Payl8r in the future?
I’ve spent the last 18 months working on a new funding line for the business to take us to the next level and it was recently completed. I’ve guided the business as it’s grown its loan book over 300% in the last 12 months and doubled its headcount.
And I’m pleased to say that we’ve so much more in the pipeline. New products, new markets, new partnerships and a very big announcement coming before the year-end which I’m very excited about. And as far as the business is concerned, we’re ready for the next level.