With everyone buying more technology products and prices going down, it is more commonplace to change your phone every year than not. This leads to a problem though, as we are aggressively discarding products, which are cheaper to buy versus repairing them and not worth the hassle of reselling them.

The circular economy hasn’t quite found a niche in the consumer tech space. However, companies are starting to take notice. One such company is Lendor, which allows consumers to lend devices and products for short periods, ensuring better usage and less wastage. This Singaporean startup offers electronics goods from Apple MacBooks to Lenovo tablets and even consumer products such as bicycles, parenting items and camping tents with a flexible rental period (from 3-36 months).

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As Southeast Asia has been bearing the brunt of China’s refusal to take in any waste products, any solution that helps reduce the amount of waste being produced is important to long-term sustainability.

To find out more about this issue and what Lendor is aiming to do, we spoke to their CEO and Founder, Chuan Wei Zhang. Here’s what he had to share.

How does Lendor work?

Lendor is a circularity technology platform based in Southeast Asia. Our mission is to maximise the utility & value of every device by encouraging collaborative consumption. We service both B2C and B2B customers, allowing both short-term (days & weeks) and long-term (months, years) rentals. 

The idea of Lendor is to allow our customers to have the option to pick and choose, the products and duration of lease where our platform helps to facilitate the ease of use. 

Some common examples would be SMEs that require tech device refresh and support where they are able to massively save on their capital expenditure and turn it into a monthly recurring payment through our platform instead. 

Or, the next time you want to host a party, we have the latest gadgets such as the PlayStation 5 which you could lease from our partner vendors, providing entertainment to your guests at an extremely reasonable rate.

What is the potential of the industry in Singapore and the rest of Southeast Asia?

We have observed that there are more businesses and users that are adopting this way of procuring tech devices. In short, the term can also be referred to “Device-as-a-Service” or DaaS in short. A few of our customers have shared with us that this option allows them to free up their cash flow massively where they are able to reinvest in other areas such as product, business development, and sales. 

We are fortunate to be able to pioneer this in Singapore offering flexible rentals for 3-36 months across multiple electronic brands such as Lenovo, Hp, Dell and Apple. This allows greater product varieties serving multiple use cases. 

For Southeast Asia, we have recently launched in Thailand and our observation was that businesses could take to that quickly as they understood the benefits of the model. Mostly operated by a traditional business, this industry is due to digitalization. 

The Lendor mobile app. Courtesy of Lendor

How do you see technology helping reduce wastage?

Through technology, we are able to observe consumer habits. This allows us to aggregate meaningful data where we are able to work on forecasting trends to maximize the use of assets. For Lendor, it means that a merchant or user that owns, say a laptop that is underutilised is now able to provide this value to another business or consumer where in the past, it would be sitting around in the office or shelved without being disposed of or left aside. After a while, that technology is outdated and no longer serves today’s fast-paced and ever-changing trends.

In the near future, we plan to also integrate blockchain technology onto our platform where we are better able to understand the movement of all devices, decentralizing the data on an open platform that would allow greater transparency in the availability of assets. Traceability of assets via transaction hashes would then create better value for our merchant partners and consumers.

What are some of the challenges you foresee in growing a culture of reuse and recycling with tech products?

Some of the key challenges that we have had to overcome are the multiple moving parts in rental transactions which can easily cause disputes relating to damages, losses, and bad debts which we classify as delinquency and keep close monitoring. 

Fortunately, we have managed to create strong working relationships and partnerships with our insurance vendor and a good process to ensure the devices are well maintained and used. The delinquency rate on our platform today is below 2%.  

What’s next for Lendor?

We are excited to share that we will be expanding into Thailand working with a local bank and an e-commerce and TV sales platform with over 10 million Thai users. By working with a local partner, we have seen synergies similar to Singapore where there is a gradual shift towards renting and fewer purchases. 

This is expected to launch in Q3 of this year, and we believe that Thailand as an initial proof-of-concept would be a strong test-bed for the Lendor team to learn and understand before further regional expansion in Southeast Asia. 

In addition, we are also looking to raise our Seed Round in late Q2, or early Q3 to support our growth into various territories, scaling our operations and invest in product innovation to better serve our customers.  

The shift in consumer mindset where it is now considered a norm to be renting also gives us further opportunity to serve various customers and to provide value for businesses. The Lendor team looks forward to scaling our business in the upcoming years.