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Walmart-backed fintech One introduces buy now, pay later

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Customers shop in a Walmart Supercenter on February 20, 2024 in Hallandale Beach, Florida.

Joe Raedle | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Walmart’s majority-owned fintech startup One has begun offering buy now, pay later loans for big-ticket items at some of the retailer’s more than 4,600 U.S. stores, CNBC has learned.

The move puts One in direct competition with Affirm, the BNPL leader and exclusive provider of installment loans for Walmart customers since 2019. It’s a relationship that the Bentonville, Arkansas, retailer expanded recently, introducing Affirm as a payment option at Walmart self-checkout kiosks.

It also likely signals that a battle is brewing in the store aisles and ecommerce portals of America’s largest retailer. At stake is the role of a wide spectrum of players, from fintech firms to card companies and established banks.

One’s push into lending is the clearest sign yet of its ambition to become a financial superapp, a mobile one-stop shop for saving, spending and borrowing money.

Since it burst onto the scene in 2021, luring Goldman Sachs veteran Omer Ismail as CEO, the fintech startup has intrigued and threatened a financial landscape dominated by banks — and poached talent from more established lenders and payments firms.

But the company, based out of a cramped Manhattan WeWork space, has operated mostly in stealth mode while developing its early products, including a debit account released in 2022.

Now, One is going head-to-head with some of Walmart’s existing partners like Affirm who helped the retail giant generate $648 billion in revenue last year.

Walmart’s Fintech startup One is now offering BNPL loans in Secaucus, New Jersey.

Hugh Son | CNBC

On a recent visit by CNBC to a New Jersey Walmart location, ads for both One and Affirm vied for attention among the Apple products and Android smartphones in the store’s electronics section.

Offerings from both One and Affirm were available at checkout, and loans from either provider were available for purchases starting at around $100 and costing as much as several thousand dollars at an annual interest rate of between 10% to 36%, according to their respective websites.

Electronics, jewelry, power tools and automotive accessories are eligible for the loans, while groceries, alcohol and weapons are not.

Buy now, pay later has gained popularity with consumers for everyday items as well as larger purchases. From January through March of this year, BNPL drove $19.2 billion in online spending, according to Adobe Analytics. That’s a 12% year-over-year increase.

Walmart and One declined to comment for this article.

Who stays, who goes?

One’s expanding role at Walmart raises the possibility that the company could force Affirm, Capital One and other third parties out of some of the most coveted partnerships in American retail, according to industry experts.

“I have to imagine the goal is to have all this stuff, whether it’s a credit card, buy now, pay later loans or remittances, to have it all…

Read More: Walmart-backed fintech One introduces buy now, pay later

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