Wouldn’t it be great if you could just buy whatever you like and pay for it within a deferred payment system? It should be easy, convenient, and cheap. Other people thought exactly the same; that’s why “shop now, pay later” solutions came to be. How does it work, who are the top players and how can you benefit from this trend?

Some consumers don’t like an idea for the credit. It hangs over their heads and generates worries. The “shop now, pay latersolutions are something else. People can buy consumer goods for less than conventional credits. Cash limits are lower and time limits to actually pay for things are shorter; usually up to 30 days. Because of that, internet and app users are inclined to buy more than usual. They can also manage their personal finances while having goods they care for.

What are the top “buy now, pay later” apps?

  • Klarna. One of the brightest stars in the midnight sky. It’s an indispensable solution that has over 130,000 partners globally. Among them are Zara, Nike, JD Sports, and Snoop Dog that trusted the business model and became an investor, and the face of the brand. It’s the biggest FinTech in Europe.
  • Affirm. A solution that welcomes partners from the fashion, automotive, travel, and fitness industries. Affirm’s BNPL products offer repayment options spanning from six weeks to 48 months. The average duration is six months. The company claims that its risk model is based on more than a billion data points.
  • Sezzle. The company’s mission is to financially empower consumers who have been “historically locked out from the traditional credit system”. It also helps vendors across the demographic spectrum reach flexible, modern consumers. It has more than 10,000 active merchants across U.S. and Canada, with more than 1 million active customers.
  • Quadpay. A company that lets consumers split a payment into four installments paid over six weeks. Acquired by Zip, another split payment solution, that goes heavily after another behemoth on our list.
  • Afterpay. One of the most recognizable FinTech companies in the world. Trusted by over 15,000 brands and retailers, Afterpay promotes easy access to multiple goods. It also emphasizes racial equality and supports black-owned businesses. With rapid growth over the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s one of the biggest financial companies in the world.
  • Splitit. It’s one of the quickest-growing FinTech companies of 2019. With the capitalization from $54 million to over $450 million in just a few months, Splitit is a powerhouse in its FinTech sector.

How does “buy now, pay later” work?

The mechanism of buy now, pay later (BNPL) is designed to accommodate the omnichannel shopping era. Users are currently reaching companies, products, and apps through various channels. The sales funnel is also longer than it used to be. Differentiating yourself on the market became “make it or break it” for many businesses out there. Especially in the time of massive online shopping and the COVID-19 pandemic. People stay at home and escape from reality. In many cases, through buying goods.

At the same time, they praise the buy now, pay later mechanism, and apps. These solutions don’t require bank approval and charge little or no interest at all. Plus, they have a limited negative impact on the user’s credit score.

Navigation is also friendly and for a good reason. FinTech apps have to be easy to browse and utilize functionalities but, in this case, seamless experience is especially important. It’s about direct behavior leading to spending money. If an app is hard to use, people will choose a different solution. The UX/UI design should be spotless.

These types of apps generate revenue based on small fees (2% – 6%) coming from merchants and low-interest rates given by shoppers. What makes the profit real is scale – because the whole process is intuitive, fast, and cheap, people are easily persuaded to make impulse purchases.

Pay later, buy more – no matter the age

The force is strong with this FinTech trend. As Forbes has reported in November, the estimated spending on BNPL purchases in 2020 will reach $24 billion. Popular especially among Generation Z, the BNPL mechanism is attractive for multiple reasons. It offers retailers an ability to present attractive financing options for various demographics. For young adults and the new generation, it speaks volumes on “instant gratification”. For low-income households, it’s a great alternative to high-street banks and expensive credits. For all, it’s just available right away.

In a research, the Ascent shows us how this mechanism exactly works. Some statistics:

  • One-third of the entire U.S. consumer base have already used a BNPL service (of some kind).
  • The heavy users are between 35 to 44.
  • 67% of millennials don’t have a credit card. They prefer debit cards, cash, and mobile banking apps.
  • Electronics are among the most common types of items to buy.

Food for thought – why do millennials prefer apps over traditional banking credit cards? When asked, they go on about a slick design of their favorite solution. Even more important – they can associate design with previous experiences, like social media and gaming. If you want to make money in FinTech, play more video games. Or find someone who can advise you on the topic.

There’s also a specialty factor. Like with all FinTechs, customers are more inclined to use a service if it does one thing very well. Instead of using multiple services, people like to have a highly-specialized app that solves one specific problem. In this case, it’s more profound. Some users may install multiple apps for loans. If credit score is low or a solution has higher interest rates, it’s best to compare apps. But if an application is helping to buy products instantly and with a larger window to actually pay for them, what is there to change? It just works.

Software development + consumer responsibility development

Software development is not enough. To succeed among a very demanding demographic, you need something extra. This thing is “responsible consuming”. Brad Paterson, the CEO of Splitit, says it best:

Retailers won’t get very far in today’s market trying to upsell customers who can’t afford their products. Installment payment options allow retailers and customers to align across their financial values like adhering to a budget, avoiding debt, and increasing their purchasing power.

One of the biggest advantages of any FinTech owner is the ability to actually listen to the customer base. Quick reaction, tailoring the app and services is the key to building a long-term relationship. People who can afford expensive services, visit banks. People from the middle class or unbanked use FinTechs. There are some problems with the buy now, pay later online options, though. They are affordable only if users can make payments on time.

The other problem – many buy now pay later apps can sidestep financial regulations. The regulatory aspect is one of the key challenges for FinTech companies. Some BNPLs had taken a slightly different path. As Stuart Condie writes for The Wall Street Journal, Afterpay “skirts the definition of a loan under some U.S. laws so it isn’t subject to the same regulation”. As Alice Tapper says in the article for Refinery 29, „some consumers, particularly those who might be younger or more vulnerable, are getting themselves into financial difficulty”. 

The truth is that the regulatory aspect of any FinTech-related app development is crucial and you should always be aware of it. Creating a startup or going through digital transformation with your product is always burdened with some extra load and headaches. Mitigate it by partnering up with the right software development partner.

How to gain users?

How to establish a proper relationship with a customer? How can you present your offer in a way that is transparent, clear, easy to dive into and wallet-friendly for all? There are three necessary ingredients:

  • Software quality. First of all, you have to find the right software partner for your open banking solution. The ability to listen, suggesting the right technology stack and even functionality sets are keys to success.
  • The right business model and offer presentation. The right software development company can build the product but the initial vision should always be yours. What do you want to do within the budget, how is your solution superior to others?
  • Elimination of user friction and overall positive app experience. The problem with mobile solutions? They are instantly accessible to download and even more accessible to delete from a smartphone. Things like capacitive touchscreens in our smartphones, large screen, and minimalistic design to highlight in-app content seem natural to all of us. It wasn’t always like that, today’s “state of play” required overcoming multiple learning curves. Find a partner that can help you understand what they are when it comes to your app.

Buy now, pay later… or choose quality

You can buy low-quality software and pay later for mixed or disastrous results. If you choose wisely, you can save yourself and your business partners a lot of trouble. According to the UPS report, 69% of consumers don’t like to pay for returns when shopping online. 73% of online shoppers say that the returns experience affects the likelihood to buy again from a particular retailer. What does this have to do with our FinTech product?

If you make your app friendly for the end-user, the customer who wants to buy now and pay later, you can win him over. Eventually, there is a high chance for more impulse purchases and higher customer loyalty towards his favorite retailers. This means more commission for you. The more thought-out purchasing process and buying experience, the happier the market will be. That means you and your retail partners.