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Buy Now Pay Later Gets Easier!

Credit cards have long been an easy way for consumer to “buy now pay later.” But not everyone could qualify for a credit card and the interest rates are very high!

These days consumers are seeing an explosion of point-of-sale “buy now pay later” (BNPL) options with companies like Klarna, Afterpay and Affirm. This article at Forbes shows BNPL is expected to grow from ~$24 billion in 2020 to almost $100 billion in 2021. While BNPL can be particularly appealing to young shoppers, who may have more limited access to credit, and it is most popular with Gen Z and Millennials, Gen X and Boomers are now using it as well.

BNPL’s biggest appeal may be convenience. At the point of online purchase, consumers have the option to split that $100 pair of shoes into four $25 payments. And BNPLs don’t charge interest. The risk is borne by the BNPL provider, with the seller typically giving the BNPL service a cut (say 3%) of each sale. That nudge may close some sales and helps retailers. And it looks good to consumers who do not have to pay a premium to buy now pay later.

The growth of BNPL raises all kinds of interesting questions you might want to discuss in your marketing class. There are ethical questions about whether credit is a good idea (see this article in The Atlantic for warnings from personal financial experts).

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