A new ‘buy now, pay later’ platform is launching in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, the Arab world's two biggest economies, with an initial investment of $5m.
Dubai-based start-up Cashew will offer its services through an app and a web-based platform that have been two years in the making, it said in a statement on Tuesday.
“Given the current economic environment, we saw a need for an easy-to-use, flexible and cost-effective solution to support both suppliers and consumers,” Cashew founder Ammar Afif said.
“Merchants and service providers are facing increasing challenges while consumers are demanding more payment flexibility and security in payment options,” Mr Afif, a veteran of the technology industry who has worked on a number of FinTech start-ups, said.
The company will look to expand into other GCC markets next year.
Buy now, pay later platforms allow consumers to make purchases without paying the full amount upfront, avoiding the use of credit cards and hefty interest charges. Merchants are still protected through credit risk checks, late fees and blocks on customers who have defaulted. The service is usually limited to smaller purchases, such as fashion, beauty, furniture, electronics and travel items.
Consumers can choose to split payments into instalments or simply delay them by up to 14 days, without any hidden fees, while merchants are paid in full upfront, Cashew said.
Cashew is looking to form partnerships with retailers, as well as in other sectors including healthcare, education, retail, travel, home improvement and entertainment.
“Our data-centric approach is helping to create a robust ecosystem of banks, financial institutions, government agencies, consumer-facing businesses and customers, which is used to gain deep insights on spending behaviour,” said Mr Afif.
“These data insights are incorporated into our platform to provide consumers with intuitive instant financing options with the lowest rates, all from the comfort of their home,” he added.
The buy now, pay later concept is gaining in popularity in the UAE, especially in the Covid-19 era when personal finances are fragile due to the global economic recession and merchants are looking to capitalise on the surge in online shopping as people avoid going out to reduce the spread of the virus.
Recent FinTech start-ups in the Emirates offering monthly instalment plans or delayed payments for purchases as small as a new pair of shoes include postpay, Tabby and Spotii.