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The ability for consumers to ‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ (BNPL) has been a hot topic in the world of finance for a few years now – and has received criticism from some quarters.

With that in mind, the UK Government has announced its intention to regulate BNPL products as some of these products are unregulated, though discussions around what form the regulation will take are still ongoing.

For some consumers, BNPL can be a convenient way of spreading the cost of their shopping, but there are concerns whether people are spending more than they can afford and adding to existing debts, which they might already be struggling to manage.

Using a regulated BNPL product can give customers reassurance and confidence when applying – and nearly a third (30%) of UK consumers have used some aspect of Buy Now, Pay Later to help them spread the cost of their purchase*.

What buyers say about Buy Now, Pay Later

Our research shows that the availability of BNPL has led to 18% of consumers who have used BNPL to ‘shop without thinking’, because ‘it’s so easy to buy something now, and worry about repayments later’*. The same number of respondents said they’ve been encouraged to shop more often due to having access to BNPL, while another 18% told us they felt BNPL allowed them to spend more on a purchase*.

What’s being bought now and paid for later?

As you might expect, the main items bought now and paid for later are the pricier personal electronic devices, such as smartphones, laptops and games consoles. They account for 30% of things bought with BNPL*.

Furniture and equipment for the home and garden are the next biggest segment, making up 27% of goods bought like this*.

As a sign of the times, even everyday clothing is bought now and paid for later – with jeans, tops, dresses and trousers making up 22% of purchases made this way*.

How are people budgeting with BNPL?

As the cost of daily living rises, budgets inevitably get squeezed, and the demand for BNPL can grow – which isn’t good news for everyone.

Currently, 18% of UK shoppers are paying off two BNPL arrangements, while a substantial 47% have had multiple BNPL loans from different providers at the same time*.

13% have had to reduce their spending on essential purchases like groceries to be able to keep up with their BNPL obligations, while 9% have had to use a credit card to keep up with their repayments*.

And one in ten (10%) of respondents told us they use BNPL on a monthly basis to pay for everyday products and services*.

Lending responsibly

All this means it’s more important than ever that retailers offering retail finance make sure they’re lending responsibly and thinking about affordability for their customers, now and in the future. When partnering with a regulated BNPL finance provider customers’ affordability and any other debt they may have, will be taken into account before making any decisions on offering the loan. However, this doesn’t apply with non-regulated products.

When a customer applies for finance, we understand that to deliver a great customer experience we need to provide a straightforward, simple and speedy application process while giving the customer chances to stop, reflect and make a fully informed decision.

At Barclays Partner Finance, we’ve built positive friction into the application journey, with our Eligibility Checker feature, and specific questions throughout the finance application process.

We pride ourselves on being at the forefront of delivering great customer experiences with user-friendly journeys that provide clear and transparent finance – leading to better customer outcomes. We do this by reducing customer friction where it’s unwanted, and building in positive friction where’s it’s needed.

“The UK government has already announced its intention to regulate Buy Now, Pay Later products, so it’s important that lenders and retailers start thinking about it now. Our research identifies the shortcomings of unregulated short-term interest-free credit options and minimising customers’ financial burdens should be a key consideration, to ensure they choose the right finance provider, and create the best possible outcomes for customers and retailers alike.

“As a responsible lender, Barclays already treats all consumer lending as fully regulated, even where the product may qualify for an exemption as we believe it’s in the best interests of consumers.”

Antony Stephen, CEO, Barclays Partner Finance.

Get in touch

To discuss your business requirements and how Barclays can support you, contact us today.

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References

*All statistics from research based on a survey of UK consumers who have previously used ‘buy now pay later’ products. It was carried out between 1 and 4 February 2022 by Opinium on behalf of Barclays Partner Finance. There were 2,000 respondents, providing a representative sample of UK consumers by age, gender, region, and income group.