While the buy now, pay later (BNPL) concept has proven immensely popular with consumers worldwide, developing a sustainable business model as a BNPL focused fintech is a challenging endeavor. For that reason, it is always noteworthy when a BNPL firm reaches the profitability milestone. The Philippines’ Billease, founded in 2017, appears to have done so in 2023.

In an April 3 news release, Billease said that in 2023 its revenue doubled, reaching US$57 million, while net income totaled US$7 million. The company attributed its brisk growth in part to strong demand for loan disbursements, while emphasizing that it achieved a return of equity (ROE) of 47% compared to a typical ROE of 5% to 15% at traditional banks. Further, BillEase said that its return on assets was 14%.

When it comes to Billease’s business strategy, the company has made some shrewd decisions with regards to its strategic partners. For instance, it is the first credit-focused fintech in the Philippines to integrate with Alipay+, enabling customers to use BillEase with global merchants like Agoda. The Philippine company also counts some big payment gateways and aggregators in Asia Pacific as its partners, such as Xendit, 2C2P, PayMongo, Paynamics, and iPay88. These partnerships allowed BillEase to more than treble its merchant network to 10,000 in 2023 from roughly 3,000 a year earlier.

Looking ahead, BillEase will look to raise additional funds for its expansion. Previously, it raised US$11 million in a Series B funding round led by BurdaPrincipal Investments in 2022. Other investors in that round included Centauri (backed by Telkom Indonesia and KB Investment), 33 Capital, and Raisin DS CEO Tamaz Georgadze. Overall, Billease has raised US$15 million to date.

Auguring well for Billease is the genuine need for credit in the Philippines, which has a huge underbanked population. Regulators in markets with significant financial inclusion needs are often more tolerant of different types of credit products than in advanced economies where BNPL is known for allowing consumers to pay for expensive vacations, appliances or luxury goods in interest-free installment payments.

Meanwhile, research firm Research and Markets estimates that BNPL payments in the Philippines are expected to grow by 16.4% on an annual basis to reach US$2.29 billion in 2024 and 11% on a compound annual basis through 2029. Further gross BNPL merchandise value is forecast to rise from US$1.97 billion in 2023 to US$3.87 billion by 2029.