Financing Start-Up Firm Sunbit Expands into Optical Retail Market with Credit Options for Patients

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LOS ANGELES—Sunbit, a tech company that provides financing options to patients and consumers, has expanded into the area of optical retail with its consumer credit services. The firm said this week that it has set up its platform within the offices of three leading regional optical retailers: Eye Doctor’s Optical Outlets of Florida, Dr. Tavel of Indiana, and Total Vision Optometry in California. Sunbit, which launched in 2016, said its technology has been used in more than 2,500 retail locations across the U.S., including dental offices, veterinarians and college bookstores, among other locations. Sunbit, to date, has signed up more than 110 eyewear locations to utilize its platform, a spokesman told VMAIL, and it expects to continue signing additional agreements through the course of the year.

The Sunbit financing plans allows patients to split their purchases into monthly installments, and the firm said the application process takes about 30 seconds. About 90 percent of patient applicants are approved for credit. Sunbit also said its program allows customers to split any eyecare bill of more than $60 into three monthly payments with 0 percent interest at no extra cost. Customers also can choose to pay over six or 12 months with varying interest rates depending on their credit history.

The firm said it recognized “the need for flexible payment and financing options for eyewear,” and as a result expects to rapidly scale its program across eyecare locations throughout the U.S. The firm said it leverages machine learning technology to “personalize underwriting solutions that result in transparent and fair rates for more people.”

Every customer who gets approved can qualify for the three-month repayment plan with "true no interest," the spokesman noted. "Otherwise, we create personalized payment plans unique to each customer ranging from 0 percent to 29.99 percent."

Eye Doctors Optical Outlets chief operating officer Robert Mursuli said he has been pleased with his Sunbit experience. (The firm has more than 50 locations across Florida.) “It’s rare that a new technology comes along with such an immediate impact on our business and bottom line,” Mursuli said in the announcement. “Sunbit fills a much-needed void in the optical retail experience and we’re proud to be partnering with them.”

Mollie Tavel, director, growth initiatives and community engagement for Dr. Tavel Optical Group, added. “We feel that providing a payment solution is key to giving patients the financial flexibility, variety and choice they want when selecting their eyewear style. Sunbit is designed specifically for in-store use and our sales associates feel great about offering customers an interest-free, transparent way to stretch their dollars.

Tavel said the practice’s stores are already “on pace for an additional $7,000 per month, per store in Sunbit revenue – all within the first month of implementation.”

Dr. Brandon Sanchez, owner of Total Vision Optometry in California, said he believes Sunbit has helped boost capture rate, upsell more second pairs of eyeglasses and promote other high-value packages.

Geoff Leyon, Sunbit’s executive director of business development, said the firm’s alternative financing option “doesn’t come with the risks of accumulating long-term debt.” He added, “Using Sunbit has allowed eyecare providers to convert otherwise previously lost sales into repeat customers. We're proud to partner with vision care providers across the country to help them provide more of their great services to even more patients.”