Neobank Monzo and financial app Curve have this week entered the buy now, pay later (BNPL) market with separate offerings, both of which are called ‘Flex’.
The two BNPL products launched yesterday (16 September) and share some similarities.
Curve founder and CEO Shachar Bialick has called Curve Flex “the most flexible credit solution in the market”.
Kunal Malani, head of borrowing at Monzo, said that they had “listened to customers and designed a better way for them to pay later, which puts them in control”.
Curve received FCA approval for Curve Flex on 1 September, having been in testing since September 2020.
It said that 1,600 beta users have already “flexed” around 7,000 transactions into affordable instalment loans worth more than £1 million.
Unlike other BNPL solutions currently available, Curve Flex is not restricted to specific merchants, accounts, cards, or products, which means that Curve customers can convert almost any purchase made on any card linked to the Curve platform in the past 12 months into an instalment plan of three, six, nine or 12 instalment loans.
Curve said that its patented ‘Go Back in Time’ technology allows its customers to swipe a transaction, select the number of instalments and the transaction is then refunded in full almost immediately.
Head of Curve Credit Paul Harrald said: “Curve is giving customers the unprecedented ability to convert transactions made up to a year ago into free or low-interest instalment loans.
“Being able to ‘Go Back in Time and Pay Later’ is going to forever change how UK customers think about managing their personal finances and cashflow. ”
Customers of Curve Flex will be able to contact customer service agents who can answer questions, amend plans and help them with their loans.
“With no limitations on merchants and the ability to accommodate all Mastercard, Visa, and Discover cards, Curve Flex will provide customers with access to easy and affordable credit,” Bialick added.
Monzo said that its Flex product provides an “improved” way to pay later by combining the elements of BNPL, credit cards, loans and overdrafts.
The product is available everywhere that customers pay with Monzo, meaning it can be used online and in-person, for eligible purchases over £30, and offers a pre-approved credit limit of £3,000.
Customers of Monzo Flex can then repay over three instalments interest free, or over six and 12-month instalment options at 19% APR (variable).
Instalment plans can be edited at any time, and there are no fees for those who choose to pay off extra or early. Monzo also confirmed that if a customer fails to make a payment on time, there are no fees.
Customers can “flex” a Monzo transaction up to two weeks later.
The neobank said that because it reports to credit reference agencies, other lenders will be able to see that a customer is using Flex.
Malani added: “Flex combines Monzo’s technology and banking expertise with its core values, ensuring customers always have visibility and control over their financial lives and only borrow money that they can afford to repay.”
The first customers had access to Flex from 16 September, with Monzo rolling out to more customers and incorporating their feedback over the coming weeks, it said.