Buy Now, Pray Later.

APAC BNPL firms facing combined USD 5.2bn in losses by 2025 on current P&L trajectory, reflecting unsustainable nature of existing business models Quinlan & Associates sees an urgent need for APAC BNPL firms to reinvent their business models, necessitating widespread strategic and operational change
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Hong Kong, 2. Mai 2022

Quinlan & Associates, a leading independent strategy consulting firm specialising in the financial services industry, has released a landmark report looking in detail at the challenges (and opportunities) for Buy Now Pay Later (“BNPL”) companies in APAC.

The report, titled, Buy Now, Pray Later: Solving for Commercial Sustainability in Asia Pacific’s BNPL Industry, looks in detail at the various shortcomings of existing BNPL business models in APAC and what needs to be done to drive commercial sustainability in the years ahead.

‘Despite strong headline growth, BNPL players – in developed and emerging markets alike – are facing challenges on a number of fronts, including unsustainable customer / merchant acquisition costs, NPLs, and funding costs, which is further compounded by low user retention rates,’ said Benjamin Quinlan, CEO of Quinlan & Associates and lead author of the report. ‘Add to this a climate of increased regulatory scrutiny in the West, which is likely to spill over into APAC, and it’s clear that BNPL firms in the region are struggling to turn a profit, with even the most established players making sizeable losses.’

The authors estimate that the largest BNPL players in APAC are seeing average profit margins of -15%, which rises to -100% for firms focused on emerging Asia. Under their current business models, they estimate APAC BNPL players are facing from a combined P&L loss of USD 5.2 billion by 2025.

‘While high customer and merchant acquisition costs may be a normal part of start-up life, high funding costs (which are set to rise in coming years as central banks globally raise interest rates) and the fact that most BNPLs still wear sizeable credit risk on their books, is seeing investors turn their back on the industry, with BNPL share prices being battered across-the-board in 2021’, continued Mr Quinlan. With incumbent and start-up BNPL providers suffering from unsustainable losses, the authors believe the BNPL business model, as it stands today, needs a fundamental rethink. ‘We see three key pathways this can be done – optimisation, integration, and expansion,’ said Mr Quinlan. ‘For many BNPLs, all three of these pathways will need to be considered if they are to remain commercially viable.’

The authors note that the BNPL industry brings an opportunity for incumbent institutions to enhance their value propositions and amass a younger consumer base. ‘Given the relatively low barriers to entry and ease of replicating the BNPL model, we have seen a growing number of incumbents entering the space. In particular, we see a huge opportunity for banks, NBFIs, and payments companies to capitalise on their low funding costs and/or large captive customer bases to win market share,’ said Mr Quinlan.

The report concludes by stating that if suitable strategic and operational adaptations are made, a more positive outlook for the industry awaits, with a USD 3.7 billion profit opportunity up for grabs by 2025.

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BENJAMIN QUINLAN

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Background & Work Experience

Benjamin Quinlan is the CEO and Managing Partner of Quinlan & Associates. He is also the Chairman of the FinTech Association of Hong Kong (FTAHK), an Adjunct Professor at the AIT School of Management, a Conference Ambassador for the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB), sits on the Advisory Committee for Hong Kong Science and Technology Park’s (HKSTP) Technology Validation Initiative, is a member of the Asian Financial Forum Steering Committee for the Hong Kong Trade and Development Council (HKTDC), and sits on the Finance, Tax & Legal Steering Committee of the Australian Chamber of Commerce (AustCham) and the Finance & Treasury Committee at the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce (HKGCC). In addition, he is a Senior Advisor for a number of leading startups, a Mentor for PingAn’s Cloud Accelerator, a Guest Contributor for eFinancialCareers and Regulation Asia, and has been widely recognised as one Asia’s leading FinTech influencers.

Benjamin has an extensive track record advising many of the world’s leading multinational companies, financial services organisations, SMEs and start-ups on a variety of high-profile strategic engagements. He is quoted extensively in the global financial press and is frequently interviewed by leading media outlets, including Bloomberg, CNBC, Reuters, and Channel New Asia. He is also a regular keynote speaker at leading financial services industry conferences across the world.

Prior to founding Quinlan & Associates, Benjamin was the Head of Strategy for Deutsche Bank AG’s Equities business in Asia Pacific and its Investment Bank in Greater China and sat on a number of the bank’s global and regional executive committees. He was also the global strategy lead for several of Deutsche Bank’s landmark projects executed out of London and New York.

Prior to Deutsche Bank, Benjamin worked as a Management Consultant at Oliver Wyman, a leading international strategy consulting firm. As part of the firm’s Corporate & Institutional Banking practice, Benjamin advised a variety of global and regional financial institutions on a range of strategic matters. He was also actively involved in the firm’s thought leadership publications and was widely regarded as one of Oliver Wyman’s global subject matter experts in investment banking and capital markets strategy.

Before joining Oliver Wyman, Benjamin worked at UBS AG in the bank’s Asia Pacific Client Coverage and Group Strategy departments, reporting into the regional President and CEO. He began his career in M&A and Capital Markets Advisory at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in Sydney.

Education

Benjamin holds a Bachelor of Commerce / Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and a First-Class Honours Degree in Economics (on scholarship) from Macquarie University, Sydney.