BYPYMNTS | FEBRUARY 11, 2022
In Latin America, 88% of businesses don’t have access to traditional credit, and 55% of B2B transactions are done with cash transactions. In the U.S., too, small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) have limited access to credit and generally can get only a corporate card.
“A corporate card is a great instrument to finance your hospitality or travel requirements as a business, but not really as a working capital tool because of the constraints of the 30-calendar-day cycles,” KEO World Founder and CEO Paolo Fidanza told PYMNTS.
Those facts drove KEO World to aim to apply the buy now, pay later (BNPL) concept to the business space. Today, the Miami-based FinTech supports 12,000 businesses in Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Peru and Mexico. It is awaiting approval from the Central Bank of Brazil to start operating there and plans to launch in the U.S. in a couple of months.
The company announced Feb. 1 that it had landed $500 million debt facility investment to scale B2B supply financing for businesses in Mexico.
Enabling Businesses to Buy Inventory When They Need It
With BNPL, a business that needs to buy inventory can get a fast approval process so that it can finance the inventory, take it now and pay later.
“The big benefit in the business, more than in the consumer space, is that normally these businesses can take this inventory, sell it or make it to work to produce money before they need to pay for it,” Fidanza said.
While businesses have used factoring, there are limitations to that option, Fidanza said. Factoring is limited to businesses that issue invoices, so it doesn’t help the cash business, it’s expensive, and its process is bureaucratic.
“Businesses buy when they need inventory or when there is an available price that justifies buying inventory — not because it’s the 29th of the month or the first of the month so they get a full 30 days of their credit card,” Fidanza said. “That’s the wrong way of using your corporate card.”
Filling a Gap in the Market
Even these companies struggle to get access to traditional credit, Fidanza said, so KEO World offers them an option that is fast, convenient, all digital and with a rate that’s the equivalent of 6% to 12% a year.
That means businesses can more easily get what they need to make money. For example, the owner of four gas stations could buy $1 million of gasoline from one of its suppliers and have 30 days to pay it.
“Because the top rate is costing you 0.5% a month to 1%, your margins are more than that, you can buy more — you only have four gas stations, now you can afford to invest in the fifth gas station,” Fidanza said.
Looking ahead, with the new investment, Fidanza said he expects KEO World’s BNPL offering to have explosive growth in Mexico
“We see it as being innovative and filling a gap in the market, not just in Mexico,” he said. “We think it will have great success in many markets, including the United States, where we plan to launch in a couple of months.”