Splitit (ASX: SPT) has been making headlines recently, after the company’s co-founder, Gil Don, is stepping down from his role as company CEO. Founder CEOs tend to be preferred by the market, given that their strong stakes in the business ensures strong alignment of interest. The CEO will be replaced by the North American MD, Brad Paterson, who has been executing well on the company’s expansion strategy.
Splitit has been trying to get a slice of the explosive growth in buy now, pay later providers (Credit: Splitit)
The buy now pay later segment of the market has been on a roller coaster recently, with positive updates from Zip (ASX: Z1P) and Afterpay (ASX: APT) driving the sector up. Splitit (ASX: SPT) has been trying to get a share of the action, pitching their model as offering a unique value proposition separate to Afterpay. They rallied strongly on the IPO as investors priced them on multiples which suggested that they had a big chance of being the next Afterpay. As investor expectations moderated, the company sold off from $2 to 50c, much closer to their IPO price.
The firm touts their high approval rates and opportunity to split purchases into 36 interest-free monthly payments (compared for four quarterly payments with APT) as differentiating factors for the platform. They also offer a 90-day trial period with products purchased on the platform, before payments commence, to attract consumers.
Bears would however argue that the difference between the business models of Splitit and Afterpay make the product much harder to monetise. Charging merchants a fee of 6% is a great business model if your initial capital is returned over 5 weeks (the average of four fortnightly instalments), since the return on capital is 80%p.a. assuming minimal friction and no defaults from the client. While both of these are big asks, an average repayment period of 18 months reduces the return on capital from Splitit’s 36-month repayment plan to 4%p.a. Any customer defaults and friction between payments reduce this return even further.
Splitit is one of the smallest companies in the ASX buy now, pay later space, so bulls argue that the business has the most room to grow. While this is true, many new industries have come to be dominated by a few players, particularly if network effects are important. Investors in the sector need to balance up both of these factors before deciding whether Splitit or one of the incumbents have more potential.
This article has been prepared by the Australian Stock Report Pty Ltd (AFSL: 301 682. ABN: 94 106 863 978)
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