- Adding to its roster of offerings, Galileo Financial Technologies has launched a buy now-pay later service for banks and fintechs, according to a Tuesday press release. Galileo is a subsidiary of SoFi Technologies.
- With the service, shoppers can access Galileo through their bank or a bank partner that can assess their ability to repay their installment plan. Once the financial service firm offers a loan, consumers can add a single-use virtual card to their mobile wallet to use at in-store and online checkouts, per the press release.
- The financial institution is responsible for underwriting the loans, and the total number of installments can be customized. From there, Galileo will oversee and service the loan, the company said.
Citing a report from Juniper Research that highlights projected buy now-pay later growth, Salt Lake City-based Galileo aims to capitalize on the emerging industry. Indeed, BNPL providers have popped up in various markets to enable customers to spread out payments for everything from gas and groceries to legal and medical costs.
As Americans seek flexible financing, Galileo’s offering “allows banks and fintechs to make more valuable loan offers to their customers directly from their existing bank systems,” Galileo Chief Product Officer David Feuer said in the release. “For our clients who are already part of the Galileo ecosystem with checking and savings accounts, offering buy now, pay later makes it even more seamless for program managers to execute both payments and disbursements.”
With the offering, Galileo joins a crowded BNPL pool that includes pure-play providers such as Affirm and Block-owned Afterpay and card giants Visa and Mastercard, which have rolled out their own installment capabilities. In October, Afterpay added a monthly, interest-bearing payment option for more expensive items.
Galileo’s expansion into BNPL follows its ownership change in 2020. In April of that year, SoFi bought Galileo for $1.2 billion in cash and stock. At that time, the startup had processed more than $53 billion in annualized payments in March, more than double the $26 billion in volume it processed in September 2019.
But as the company enters the buy now-pay later market, researchers, advocacy groups, and analysts have pointed to risks in the industry. In August, Fitch Ratings warned that BNPL companies’ business models could be strained amid economic uncertainty.
Earlier this year, the Financial Health Network released a report indicating that a fourth of buy now-pay later consumers are financially vulnerable. A more recent study conducted by researchers in the U.S. and Singapore linked bank overdraft charges and credit card interest and fees to the use of buy now-pay later services. Plus, a working paper from Harvard Business School professors found that the use of BNPL platforms drove more retail spending.