Buying stuff on Amazon is about to get even easier. The online retailer took an equity stake in a Maryland-based company called Bill Me Later that lets people shop now and pay later at more than 700 Websites, including the Apple Store, Overstock, Walmart.com, and ToysRus.com. Amazon will be offering the payment option as well. (It competes with PayPal’s Pay Later service).
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Bill Me Later raised a whopping $72 million last quarter and has raised $200 million in total from Azure Capital Partners, Chase Paymentech, Crosspoint Venture Partners, First Data Corp., and others. It also secured a $640 million debt financing a year ago. That is a lot of capital, but as a financial firm, it is taking on a lot of risk.
The way Bill Me Later works is you enter your birth date and last four digits of your social security number online, and it does a credit check on you in three seconds to determine whether you are worth the risk. Bill Me Later pays the merchant, and sends you a bill. According to the Baltimore Sun, about 3 million people have signed up so far, and the company is on track to pull in over $100 million in revenues this year. It must have some really sophisticated algorithms to make that credit risk decision on the fly. For people still not comfortable using a credit card to pay online, this type of service removes any remaining friction in e-commerce. I wonder what its default rate is.