As the popularity of online shopping continues, buy now, pay later (BNPL) platforms are becoming a popular way for businesses to offer their customers flexible payment options. Though larger companies traditionally used this service, BNPL is becoming increasingly popular with companies of all sizes.1 Providers like Klarna, Affirm, and Afterpay enable shoppers to purchase products online from participating merchants and pay for them through a series of installments, often interest-free.2 This app-based hybrid version of layaway and credit is growing in popularity with retailers and consumers alike as brands like Amazon, Walmart, and Target offer installment plans to increase sales.

Buy Now, Pay Later is Gaining Momentum 

The continued growth of online shopping resulting from the pandemic has catapulted BNPL into the mainstream. While BNPL was gaining popularity leading up to the pandemic, BNPL deals exploded when retailers were forced to close brick and mortar stores. Covid-19 produced a shift in consumer spending habits as an increased number of consumers spent more time at home and embraced e-commerce.3 BNPL generated almost $100 billion in transactions in 2020 as millions of shoppers financed their purchases.4 The pandemic left millions of consumers out of work and in need of greater flexibility with their purchases, which increased the demand for easy online financing options. Unlike credit cards which were intended to be used multiple times, BNPL solutions are applied to individual transactions, which appeals to consumers wanting to make less of a financial commitment.

Advantages for Consumers

Consumers are more likely to make significant purchases if they can pay for them in installments rather than the total price upfront. Popular among people under thirty with tight finances and less available credit, consumers welcomed the ability to delay payment for goods and access financing.5 Many consumers see BNPL as an appealing alternative to racking up another high credit card balance. BNPL services claim they are a better alternative to traditional banking and credit cards because it is easy for consumers to get approved for this type of loan, even with a low credit score.6 Provided consumers stick to the payment terms, BNPL offers the chance to pay in interest-free installments. Though BNLP offers many advantages to all parties involved, consumers should ensure they understand the repayment terms. Late payments have the potential to affect an individual’s credit score, and customers who default on their payments may be banned from future purchases.7 BNPL is a loan, and consumers should plan their purchases with their income and expected expenditure in mind. 

Advantages to eCommerce

Just as BNPL is a preferred payment method for many consumers, it can also be useful for businesses. By integrating BNPL, companies can attract new shoppers, improve customer relations, and increase sales. It is important to provide many different payment options to give customers their preferred choices and appeal to as many potential first-time shoppers as possible.8 Consumers increasingly utilize BNPL platforms, which means companies willing to work with BNPL providers will appeal to a new set of customers. Millennials and Gen Z are more likely to use BNPL platforms when shopping online than any other age group, so if a business is interested in attracting these age groups, they should strongly consider using a BNPL platform.9 Additionally, customers are more likely to return to a business that offers BNPL options, and with so many companies providing this service, it is essential to remain competitive. 

BNPL delivers a quick and straightforward payment process and is a viable alternative to traditional payment methods. BNPL platforms allow a business to get paid in full immediately, while the consumer has the instant gratification of receiving the product directly at a low upfront cost. In exchange for providing interest-free loans to customers, these platforms take only around 5%-6% of the purchase cost from retailers.10 If the customer does not make the payment on time or the payment is not collected, businesses do not have to worry about lost revenue. 

Why Buy now, pay later platforms can be a valuable tool for both businesses and consumers. The potential for BNPL platforms to drive sales and increase income with no risk to the company is an appealing prospect, and customer demand for this payment method is high. While consumers must be mindful of their purchases and not spend beyond their means, BNPL can be a great way to finance items if used responsibly. With research from Kaleido Intelligence estimating that online consumers will double the amount of money they spend using BNPL to $680 billion by 2025, there is a massive opportunity for businesses to profit.11 BNPL is here to stay for the foreseeable future.