Rakuten Announces Partnership with BNPL Afterpay

Just as the holiday shopping season is getting underway, it looks as though consumers will be able to tap two increasingly popular platforms at once while shopping online. According to a press release from Rakuten, the platform will be partnering with Afterpay to offer cashback to customers who choose to use the buy now, pay later (BNPL) service along with Rakuten to place their orders. This option will be available to users on participating websites MAC Cosmetics, Ulta Beauty, Urban Outfitters, Ray-Ban, and “thousands more.”

Rakuten — formerly Ebates — is an online platform where customers can earn cashback on their purchasing when they use special links found on the site. Alternatively, the service’s browser extension helps alert shoppers to available cashback offers along with any coupons that might apply. This cashback is then accrued and issued to customers via a “Big Fat Check,” PayPal transfer, or American Express Membership Rewards points payment on a quarterly basis.

As for Afterpay, it’s one of the leading “buy now, pay later” options. The Australia-based service enables customers to break their purchases down into four payments, with the first being due upfront and three subsequent payments due every two weeks after. Provided that shoppers make these payments on time, there is no interest or fees for this service.

The news comes as Afterpay is set to be acquired by Square, Inc. — or soon to be Block, Inc. That purchase is valued at around $29 billion and follows other Square acquisitions, including buying streaming service Tidal for $297 million in May. Elsewhere, the Rakuten partnership also arrives as Afterpay announced they saw a 34% year-over-year increase in orders using the service on Black Friday.

In a statement about the partnership, Afterpay chief revenue officer Melissa Davis said, “Working with Rakuten, we are able to help consumers spend responsibly during the busiest shopping season of the year, while also providing merchants with a two-in-one solution to deliver new customers and drive higher conversion rates. Heading into this holiday season, we couldn’t be more excited to join forces with Rakuten for the benefit of shoppers and merchant partners alike.”

Additionally, Rakuten Rewards president Kristen Gall noted, “Offering unique deals and incentives is a key strategy for driving conversions of more expensive, luxury product. In fact, luxury items saw an 86% sales lift over non-luxury items in a recent Cash Back promotion – showing Cash Back is universally valued, and not just by habitual coupon cutters. We’re thrilled to partner with Afterpay to offer our retail and brand partners the opportunity to deliver the convenience of Buy Now, Pay Later that will help give their customers the ability to receive Cash Back on purchases immediately while paying over time, interest-free.”

Despite the controversial nature of BNPL platforms, they seem to be inescapable at this point. Thus, when combining this growing option with a cashback tool like Rakuten, it’s easy to see why this would be a win for retailers. However, on the consumer side, shoppers should be careful when using BNPL options, ensuring that they can truly afford the item and make the payments on time. Of course, cashback services like Rakuten can also be used on their own, which may ultimately be the best choice for your holiday shopping needs.

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Jonathan Dyer

I'm a small town guy living in Los Angeles looking to make solid financial decisions. I write for a number of finance websites, including HuffingtonPost and Business2Community. I founded DyerNews.com in 2015 to focus on personal finance and the emerging FinTech markets.

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