MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — There’s a new way to pay this holiday season, and next to where shoppers click buy online. Similar to layaways—but the items get shipped immediately, and similar to financing via monthly installments—but instead of cars and emergencies, it’s toys or fashion.

Almost every major retailer offers some version of “buy now, pay later” at checkout, and one of the biggest companies behind the option is based in Minneapolis’ warehouse district. It’s called Sezzle.

“We’re a payments platform that’s offering interest-free installment payments to younger consumers, or consumers that might not have access to installments otherwise,” said Sezzle’s Chief Technology Officer, Killian Brackey.

Brackey told WCCO the company has more than 650,000 customers, growing at a pace of 70,000 per month. It has thousands of retail partners, and next to the price, customers will see the option to pay in installments.

It does a soft credit check without impacting the user’s credit score, then links to either a bank account or credit card, charging every two weeks, interest-free.

Miss a payment? Late fees cost $10. Want to reschedule a payment? The first one is free, and then it’s $5.

Brackey and fellow executive Chris Bixby say Sezzle is trying to give buyers another responsible way of paying.

“With the significant—and majority in some cases—of consumers living paycheck-to-paycheck and not wanting to spend on their credit card, we provide them with the opportunity to buy now and buy today,” said Bixby.

The hesitation for many consumers tends to fall under the idea that Sezzle contradicts general advice: If you can’t afford something, don’t buy it.

“For us, it’s really about providing [access] to a consumer that may not have another option,” said Bixby. “We limit our consumers’ spending behaviors, and so we try to not overextend them. We only give them credit and availability that we think they can afford to pay back, and we think that’s really important for us.”

The vast majority of Sezzle’s revenue comes from fees on retailers, similar to and slightly higher than typical credit card processing fees, rather than the $10 late fees on customers.

As a company, it has doubled in size in six months—with 120 employees and hiring.

Christiane Cordero

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