Consumer Surveys Reveal Key BNPL Trends in the U.S. – WWD

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Flexible payment options, like buy now, pay later are seemingly everywhere today, appealing to the consumer’s search for a more transparent way to shop and pay.

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According to a survey from Opy, a payments fintech company, which surveyed 1,000 Americans on BNPL, consumers are also seeking flexible payment options when it comes to health care costs. 

Found to be largely due to BNPL’s payment flexibility and fixed rates, 69 percent of Americans said they are worried about future dental costs while two-thirds of pet owners say they are worried about future veterinarian costs. Indicating a lack of easy and accessible funds to pay for care, the survey also found for 71 percent of respondents using BNPL over traditional payment methods would be welcome. This sentiment was even higher from pet owners, with 86 percent of respondents saying they would opt to use BNPL to pay for treatments. 

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“The numbers don’t lie,” says Brian Shniderman, U.S. chief executive officer and global chief strategy officer at Opy USA. “Americans are longing for the ability to choose BNPL when making a more significant purchase, such as when visiting the dentist or seeking veterinary care for their pets. In addition, dental patients and pet owners who have greater access to alternative payment methods will seek more consistent visits and treatments, with less worry and anxiety about covering the related expense of doing so. I’m proud to represent a brand that is working to help change lives by offering a fair, friendly way to finance people and pet care, especially when it’s a big bill that’s hard to pay off in a month or two.”  

The authors of the report said the survey findings indicate that the pandemic has certainly influenced Americans’ feelings on BNPL. Unsurprisingly, Millennials are leading the way here with 75 percent of those surveyed indicating interest in BNPL has increased. In regard to paying for dental care specifically, two-thirds of consumers surveyed said they are more interested in a BNPL option for payment now as compared to before the pandemic. When asked about the most desirable feature of BNPL, a majority indicated it was the flexibility in payment.

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Meanwhile, a report from Lending Tree found that using BNPL might be taking a toll on Americans’ budgets.

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Undoubtedly, BNPL has taken the U.S. by storm. According to the company’s survey, which looked at a sample of 1,500 consumers about installment loans, 43 percent of Americans have used a BNPL service increasing from 31 percent just one year ago.

In part, the authors of the report said, this is due to the services gaining traction with a larger audience, appealing to more than just the Millennial consumer. According to the company’s survey findings, 22 percent of consumers ages 57 to 76 reported they have used BNPL ­— up from just 9 percent this time last year.

Still, according to the survey, 70 percent of BNPL users admitted to spending more money than they would have if they had to pay for everything upfront. The data also indicated that many have used BNPL 10 or more times, say they have overspent with the service and ultimately regretted using it.

For many, this overspending has also resulted in making a late payment on one of these loans.

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The fact that 42 percent of BNPL users said they’d made a late payment was the most troubling and most shocking finding,” the authors of the report said. “In fact, we were so surprised by what we found that we re-fielded that and other related questions to make sure the high percentage wasn’t a fluke or an error. It wasn’t.”

While credit cards were still found as the preferred method of payment, the report indicates that as BNPL continues to grow it is gaining a significant share. Already, 47 percent of consumers surveyed by Lending Tree said they would prefer using BNPL to pay for a purchase that they do not have the money for upfront.

BNPL was found as preferred over credit cards for 51 percent of women and 53 percent of those making less than $50,000 a year.

Additionally, as consumers experience different BNPL options, 47 percent of consumers said they have loyalty to a specific brand and often choose to shop at retailers that accept their preferred provider. The top four companies with consumer loyalty were revealed as PayPal, Afterpay, Klarna and Affirm.

However, for the other 53 percent of consumers, the decision is simply reliant on which BNPL their preferred retailer has a relationship with. Notably, shoppers indicated that they see it as a good thing when BNPL lenders allow shoppers to use their services at many retailers through the lenders’ app.

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