Life is a lot of things — short, beautiful, a highway — but it’s also incredibly expensive. Millions of Americans are working paycheck to paycheck to keep their homes running and families thriving, all while managing considerable financial commitments such as student loans, mortgages and credit card debt.
In a pinch, it’s increasingly tempting to finance a purchase on credit and “figure it out later.” This is especially evident for larger expenses that pop up during life’s major events or seasons of high financial strain, like back-to-school or the holidays. Many alternative financial options — such as payday lenders and rent-to-own players — count on this instinct. They draw in strapped shoppers through the promise of easy, quick financing, all the while relying on the fees and interest they’ll rake in when consumers fail to pay on time.
Perpay, a fintech startup based in Center City, has a better idea. The team realized that they couldn’t instill healthy financial habits by treating people like numbers. They’d need to go deeper and take a holistic look at each consumer’s unique financial situation, then set up a personalized plan that was realistic and manageable.
Rather than using past credit behavior as a primary indicator for risk, Perpay uses an income-based approach to understand its consumer and help them create an attainable budget. Consumers can then purchase items from Perpay’s marketplace of well-known brands (including mega names like Whirlpool, Beats, KitchenAid, Ashley Furniture, LG and more) and payments are pulled directly from their paychecks. No fees. No interest. It’s a “set it and forget it” solution where there is no chance for consumers to find themselves over-extended.
“Our goal is to get aligned with our customers and help them build better borrowing, buying and budgeting habits that are in line with their income. We work with them to facilitate a transaction they might otherwise finance on a credit card — if they have one — or purchase through rent-to-own,” said COO Nikos Petrides.
Although the ubiquitous predatory practices of many companies have made consumers credit-cautious, Perpay has seen its unique financing model win over the skeptics.
“We’re proud to say that the vast majority of our customers come back and use us for a second or third time within the first year,” said Petrides.
When asked why he thinks the company has been so successful in building customer loyalty, Petrides said, “We’re meeting the customer where they are. We’re not trying to do anything too drastic, we’re just finding the best way to support them.”
The trust Perpay has established with its customers, combined with their positive experiences using the product, has allowed the company grow its revenue and team exponentially year-over-year.
Another element of Perpay’s growth has been its effort to deliver attentive, committed customer support, as well as to collect detailed consumer feedback. This has enabled the company to continually identify customers’ pain points and improve the overall user experience.
Improving the customer experience is something the tight-knit, collaborative team — which works in a gorgeous, light-filled loft draped in lush plants, colorful rugs and Moroccan-style lamps — takes pride in. Team members, all of equal voice and standing, get as excited to go to work as they do to hang out together after hours.
Regarding future growth, the Perpay team plans to scale its operation thoughtfully, with the goal of reaching even more customers while maintaining its collaborative, customer-first vibe.
“We would like to grow as quickly as we can,” said Growth and Marketing Specialist Matt Nicosia. “[The product] has such an impact on people. If we can deliver that impact to a larger audience, that’s even better.”
Beyond success you can see in numbers, it is perhaps the holiday season when the team gets to fully absorb the true magic of what Perpay has accomplished.
As Operations Specialist Noah Quinn recalled, “The impact that resonates with me the most comes the days following Christmas. Hearing that we made someone’s holiday possible — that they were able to put gifts under the tree. That’s really rewarding.”