Could you imagine to pay in installments when seeing a doctor? In Taiwan, thanks to the universal health insurance system, costs of medical care are not very high. In the USA, medical care is quite expensive, up to a couple thousand dollars for each consultation, in both public and private institutes.
However, payment in installments is often an option only offered by large businesses; banks are usually unwilling to work with small-scale merchants. Although private loans are also available, their high interest rate is usually unaffordable to most people.
With years of experiences working in the internet industry in the USA, Bruce Chen observed this dilemma that both buyers and sellers cannot solve. Thus in 2013, he founded Insto, an online platform that supports C2C installment plans.
Via a smartphone App, buyers and sellers could negotiate an installment plan with an amount and period that both parties agree to, without the service of a bank. This method not only reduces the financial pressure of the buyers, but also attracts more customers for the sellers.
As a result, all kinds of products and services could be paid for by installments via Insto. Dental care is one example, while art works that are usually only affordable to wealthy buyers are another. Even with services such as barbering or home refurbishment, buyers and service providers could easily make a deal as long as they agree on the conditions.
The conditions, including the total payment, down payment, each layaway payment and payment date, are entirely flexible and left for the two parties to decide.
Insto is like a market, on which all products are available for an installment plan. Insto’s business model is to charge a service fee based on installment period and buyers’ credit score.
While some may be concerned about the fact that no bank serves as a middleman in the process, Insto adopts a real-name system, as well as works with a credit agency to screen out users with a bad credit score. Meanwhile, Insto offers sellers a potential compensation up to 5000 USD. In the future, it also plans to work with insurance agencies to protect sellers’ rights.
At the end of 2016, Insto introduced another service: recurring C2C payments. Compared to a general installment plan, based on which a buyer would first acquire a product or a service before making the payment by installments, a recurring payment means that a seller would provide a continuous service within a fixed period of time, for example, when a lawyer provides legal consultation.
If a buyer stops the payment, the seller would automatically terminate his/her service. The advantage of recurring payments is a lower risk.
Since founded, Insto has secured 1.7 Million USD as seed capital, whose investors include the famous law firm WSGR in Silicon Valley, as well as a series A investment of 600, 000 USD. At present, Insto’s targeted market is the USA and it plans to enter Japan this year.
As one of the few startup firms in Taiwan that aim at the global market right from the beginning, with its clear business model, Insto’s future prosperity is worth looking forward to.