In what is arguably the first holiday season with Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) as a “mainstream” payment option, new research reveals many Americans consider it a gift.
According to a study by GoCardless, a global fintech for account-to-account payments, 42% of shoppers plan to use it during the festive period, rising to 60% of Millennials. Clothing tops the list as the most popular item for BNPL, chosen by 39% of the respondents, followed by computers and laptops (33%) and games consoles such as the PlayStation and Xbox (32%).
BNPL could help businesses and consumers
BNPL could provide a big boost to businesses during the holidays. A third (32%) of shoppers reveal they’re willing to spend up to $99 more if BNPL was available, with a quarter (26%) indicating they would spend as much as $200 more.
In what has been a hard year for everyone, 42% of consumers say they want to use BNPL this holiday season to treat a loved one with something they could not usually afford. Meanwhile, 33% admit it’s because their finances are rocky from the pandemic, though they will be healthier in the new year.
The popularity of BNPL has displaced a ‘90s retail staple: 75% of Americans don’t see the point of having layaway options for holiday shopping now that buy now pay later is available. In fact, 40% of Americans have “no idea” what a layaway program is. This increases to 57% of Gen Z shoppers.
But it’s not a perfect solution
Though BNPL has seen exponential growth this year, its rapid rise has created some confusion for consumers. Close to half (46%) of Americans say they find it difficult to keep track of how many buy-now-pay-later plans they have open, and nearly six in ten (58%) say they would need to check their accounts to work out how much money they owe, as opposed to estimating off the top of their head. This rises to 78% of Millennials.
When it comes to managing their BNPL accounts, eight in ten consumers would welcome a central place, such as an app or website, to view all their open plans (80%) and pay them off (82%), regardless of provider. Shoppers are also willing to try new technology to gain greater control over their BNPL accounts: 80% of Americans say if open banking allowed them to view all their buy-now-pay-later balances in one place, they would use it.
Hiroki Takeuchi, co-founder and CEO of GoCardless, said: “2021 has been a phenomenal year for Buy Now Pay Later. With e-commerce booming and the holiday shopping season now underway, it’s no surprise that online payment options like BNPL and others that provide a more seamless user experience are at the top of our wish list once we hit that checkout page.
“What’s interesting, though, is the number of people who want a better way to manage their outstanding bills now that more payment options have come onto the scene. New technology such as open banking will be key to bringing all our data together, helping us spend responsibly during the holiday season and beyond.”