Walmart-backed startup One is reportedly preparing to launch a buy now, pay later (BNPL) payment service as soon as next year, people familiar with the matter told CNBC. The company was motivated by the pressure of inflation and its impact on shoppers’ needs.
Walmart has been a beneficiary of shoppers trading down to save on staples — approximately 75% of its market share gains in grocery over the past two quarters have come from households that make more than $100,000. CEO Doug McMillon noted that shoppers are feeling stressed in a recent interview with CNBC.
“We’ve got some customers who are more budget-conscious that have been under inflation pressure now for months,” said McMillon on CNBC’s Squawk Box. “That sustained pressure in some categories, I think, is something customers are having to deal with as we approach Christmas.”
One, which is led by Goldman Sachs veteran Omer Ismail, was launched with backing from Walmart and Ribbit Capital in January 2021. The company is independent, but Walmart U.S. CEO John Furner and CFO John David Rainey, who recently joined the company from PayPal, sit on the board. One has since acquired two other fintech startups, One (which later became its namesake) and Even.
Walmart already offers BNPL through Affirm, which replaced the retailer’s layaway program in late 2021. The service has been growing in popularity across retail, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is planning to start regulating these programs. The agency highlighted what it saw as three potential areas of harm:
- Inconsistent consumer protection due to some products not offering protections that are standard elsewhere in the consumer financial marketplace;
- Data harvesting and monetization by some BNPL providers, which could “threaten consumers’ privacy, security, and autonomy” if not properly overseen; and
- Debt accumulation and overextension due to the fact that some BNPL providers don’t furnish data to major credit reporting companies, which can impact other lenders.