During the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers and merchants created additional demand for BNPL services: new yStats.com report.

Posted on: Online Payment on April 15, 2021

The new report from Hamburg-based market intelligence firm yStats.com, “North America Buy Now Pay Later Industry and Trends 2021” provides insights into the current state and trends in the BNPL market in North America, as well as offers an overview of the industry developments globally, including such major BNPL service providers as Klarna, Afterpay and Affirm.

Consumers worldwide are increasingly opting for BNPL services, but this sometimes comes at high costs

According to figures cited in the new yStats.com report, the majority of BNPL users worldwide are of the younger generations. For instance, in a March 2021 survey, in the USA, close to two-thirds of respondents in the age group 18-44 at least once opted to use a BNPL service. In Canada, the majority of respondents in the October 2020 survey were willing the BNPL option to be offered at checkouts. Nevertheless, the BNPL services do have some clear downsides for the consumers, as alone in the USA, a significant share of BNPL users have already missed at least one payment, while approximately two-thirds of users had their credit card at more than 75% of the maximum limit at the moment of the first BNPL transaction

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, various authorities became concerned about the accelerated activity of BNPL service providers

Consumers worldwide became increasingly attracted by the BNPL services because of the economic disruptions of the COVID-19 health crisis. The increased use of BNPL raised concerns of several governmental representatives, as the regulatory frameworks are still quite unclear for the industry. This happened, for example, in Europe, as the European Commission stated plans to update the current consumer credit agreements, considering the BNPL service providers activity; in the UK, the Financial Conduct Authority intends to introduce initiatives concerning the industry this year; and in Australia, where at the behest of Australian Securities and Investment Commission, the Reserve Bank of the country proposed new regulations. The regulators are mainly concerned about overspending by local consumers, and the lack of transparency of the exact terms that BNPL providers apply, as detailed in the yStats.com publication.

Despite major BNPL service providers accelerating their market shares, local ones are still stepping in

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Klarna, one of the main BNPL service providers saw its customer base grow rapidly, as more than 20% of its users connected in 2020. Despite steadily growing revenues, the company  initiated new services and further market expansion, which resulted in negative net profits. Another serious BNPL player, Afterpay, more than doubled its sales, total income, active customer base, and significantly increased the number of connected merchants during the health crisis. Similarly, Affirm, which mainly operates in North America, and in January 2021 Affirm officially acquired Toronto-based buy now pay later service provider PayBright, managed to almost double the number of active users in 2020, compared to 2019. Additionally, the company presented its ambitious plan to nearly double its revenue by the end of the 2021 financial year, according to the yStats.com report.

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