Zilla, the Buy-Now-Pay-Later company founded in 2021, has paused its BNPL services and is now focusing on a cross-border payment product, Zillawire. This comes after struggling to convince customers to use the service, two people with knowledge of the matter told TechCabal. 

“One of our biggest challenges has been that a lot of people don’t understand how credit works and think it is about owing people,” one employee who asked not to be named told TechCabal. “Most customers would rather wait until they have the complete amount of money to pay than get one now and pay in instalments,” the person added.

The company confirmed the decision to pause its BNPL offering to TechCabal and said it “had a couple of things to figure out.” The company claimed that “resuming the service is in the works” without sharing any specific timelines. 

Zilla was launched in 2021 by Tolu Abiodun and has about 100 merchants that provide various products and services that customers can pay for in two to four instalments.

Despite sluggish adoption, two categories that performed fairly well were electronics and beauty products from high-end stores, as these are typically too expensive for the average consumer to pay for at once, said one person close to the business. 

But even these high-performing categories provided a problem: customers wanted more than the maximum four months Zilla provided to finalise payments.

“The economy is tough, and people need more time,” said Joshua, who runs a gadget store registered with Zilla. “Customers who want to buy now and pay later for phones or laptops prefer to use other services like CDCare, as they give you a chance to pay for as long as a year.”

Victoria, a vendor who sells wigs and other beauty products, has had about five customers use Zilla in the two years since she joined the BNPL service. Two of those five customers eventually asked Zilla for a payment extension as they found completing payments after four months challenging.

Pivoting to cross-border payments?

Zilla’s new product, Zillawire, processes foreign transactions with suppliers on behalf of merchants. According to information on their website, merchants are required to upload their invoices as well as the account information of the supplier for this service.

On the reason for building a cross-border payment product, the employee shared that the company noticed that a lot of their merchants were having some issues with their international payments for their products and wanted to do something about that. According to her, Zillawire, which launched in August 2023, performed better than expected and so the company is focusing on that now. 

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