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How Rely is moving up the retail value chain

Jovi Ho
Jovi Ho4/30/2021 07:00 AM GMT+08  • 3 min read
How Rely is moving up the retail value chain
While players in the BNPL space race to secure partnerships with merchants, Rely is targeting entire malls and platforms.
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While players in the BNPL space race to secure partnerships with merchants, Rely is moving up the value chain by targeting entire malls and e-commerce platforms.

Last December, the Singapore-based FinTech start-up announced its partnership with real estate and investment firm Lendlease, offering shoppers at [email protected] the option of using the payment service, which it claims will “reinvigorate” the retail space and cater to “every shopper”.

The tie-up followed Rely’s partnership with e-commerce platform Qoo10. In February, Rely partnered fashion e-commerce giant Zalora. The platforms join existing retailers Charles & Keith, Aldo Shoes, SK Jewellery Group, Limited Edt Sneakers, Playdress Fashion, Well Bred Fashion and other “millennial-centric brands” in providing the payment service.

The tie-ups are part of Rely’s strategy to work with existing ecosystem partners, says CEO and co-founder, 31-year-old Hizam Ismail, who claims his “smart purchasing” platform gives customers “ease” and merchants “protection”. In an email to The Edge Singapore, he claims Rely’s overall user base surged 10 times in 2020, although he declined to give specific numbers.

See: Buy now, regulate later? Are 'buy now, pay later' services good for cash-strapped consumers?

Rely offers two payment plans; customers can opt to pay in four payments every fortnight or three payments monthly. These options offer flexibility when paying for different types of products, says Hizam.

“The four payments work well with medium-ticket transactions such as a bag or apparel. Users pay 25% upfront and the rest is automatically deducted from their card every two weeks,” he says. “The three monthly payments work well to give added flexibility for shoppers when purchasing higher ticket transactions such as furniture.”

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In general, customers with debit cards can transact up to $1,000 while those on credit cards can make purchases up to $4,000. The exact limit, however, differs from user to user. “Spending limits are personalised according to the individual user’s spending and repayment behaviours,” says Hizam.

In addition, all users start with a lower spending limit that increases over subsequent purchases. That said, user accounts are suspended when they miss a single payment, says Hizam. “We do not allow revolving of balances, which is a really bad idea for consumers.”

He also claims Rely has helped boost sales and conversion for its merchant partners, to the tune of a 30% to 50% increase.

See also: Atome races ahead across Asia

While users aged 18 to 35 make up the majority of Rely’s customer base, Hizam notes a surprisingly significant group of users between 45 and 55 years old. “The simplicity resonated with this segment as well. There were times where this segment felt that the deal was ‘too good to be true’ as we do not charge any fees or interest,” he explains.

In 2019, Rely raised an undisclosed seven-figure sum in a pre-series A round with Goldbell Financial Services, a subsidiary of the Singapore-based Goldbell Group, and family office Octava Foundation.

Last December, Rely announced a $100 million facility from Polaris, the strategic partnerships arm of Goldbell Financial Services. The line will help forge new partnerships and fund expansion into markets with major retailers in Singapore, Malaysia and South Korea.

“The fund will provide major commercial merchants onboarding with Rely confidence in its ability to facilitate high-volume, high-demand sales flow,” says the company.

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