PayBright CEO: "We've Come a Long Way"


Wayne Pommen

December 07, 2020

As we announce the acquisition of PayBright by Affirm, we could not be more excited about the road ahead. We’re joining one of the international leaders in the buy-now-pay-later industry and there is an enormous amount that we can accomplish together to bring value to our merchant partners and consumers. Read more here.

As we enter a new chapter for our business, it’s a good moment to reflect on what we’ve accomplished over the years to bring us to this point. I’m taking the opportunity today to look back at some of the milestones in our history and the common themes that united them. In particular, from day one, this company has always been about putting consumers first by creating a newer and better way for them to pay.

In 2009, James Fox and James Hyssen co-founded our company as Health Smart Financial Services. In the midst of the 2008-09 recession, they saw that Canadians needed a better way to pay for healthcare services in Canada – a buy-now-pay-later option that was simple, fair, consumer-friendly, and transparent. They moved quickly to establish the business in the spring of 2009 and enlisted Alex Thomson as the first employee to help bring the vision to life. The first installment products were six and 12 month interest-free plans delivered through an easy, instant approval process. This is still a core offering for us in 2020.

When I joined the company as CEO at the end of 2015, I saw an organization that had incredible potential for growth. It had a consumer-focused culture, a group of incredibly loyal merchant partners, a great product – and most importantly, a clear and compelling philosophy about how this business should be done.

Having become a leader in healthcare point-of-sale financing in Canada, we expanded in 2016 into the retail sector following the same principles and product approach: simple installment plans that were again designed with the consumer in mind - and specifically were not based on the credit card model. As we entered the retail sector, we adopted the PayBright brand, underscoring that we are all about bringing Canadians a better way to pay.

2017 was a pivotal year, as PayBright powered Canada’s first e-commerce installment payment transaction via the Shopify platform. Strong relationships soon followed with key merchant partners such as Endy, Casper, Wayfair, and Samsung – as well as expansion to additional e-commerce platforms. As we moved into 2018, we accelerated the growth of the team and ramped up investment into the platform with the support of new investors, such as CBGF.

In 2019, we began to help consumers cover smaller purchases through our new Pay in 4 (biweekly interest-free) product, partnering with a new category of merchants such as Steve Madden, eBay, Groupe Dynamite, Hudson’s Bay, and SAIL. The number of Canadians with PayBright accounts continued to accelerate as our merchant partnerships grew.

In 2020, we exceeded 7,000 merchant partners on our platform. Over 600,000 Canadians to date have been approved for a PayBright payment plan, with rapidly increasing repeat purchase rates. We also unified our online and in-store experience, bringing merchants a true all-channel offering that meets the needs of modern retail while staying true to our founding principles and our focus on the consumer.

As we prepared to announce the transaction with Affirm this week, I spoke regularly to James Fox and James Hyssen, who have continued to serve on our board throughout the growth of the company. They are justifiably proud of what PayBright has built and are excited for the future.

“We founded the business originally because Canadians needed a better option to pay over time for the things they need,” James Fox, PayBright’s Chairman, told me. “We never believed in the credit card model that dominated retail financing in Canada for so long, and we saw that hidden fees and endless interest payments were the wrong answer for both consumers and for merchants. There was simply a better way to do it.”

James Hyssen added, “We built the business initially for the healthcare sector, but it’s incredible to see how well the same fundamental product and principles have resonated in the retail and e-commerce sector over the past few years. Simple, consumer-friendly installment plans – especially when they are fully integrated into the checkout experience – are clearly winning. The merchant and consumer adoption of PayBright, and other buy-now-pay-later providers like Affirm, speaks for itself.”

PayBright has come a long way since 2009, entering new segments and dramatically evolving the offering to support today’s best digital retailers. Much has changed. But the fundamentals have not: the core consumer-first principles and product approach that have been the underpinning of our success all along.

Those principles are also part of what makes PayBright’s combination with Affirm the right fit – they’ve shared the same philosophy since their own day one. Together, we’ll keep bringing consumers and merchants a better way to pay.

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Wayne Pommen

President and CEO, PayBright

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