Blog: Your Opinion in Action: A Cautionary Tale on Buy-Now-Pay-Later

April 19, 2022 | Browse more articles -->

What happens after you submit your survey responses? Where do your answers go? How is your opinion used? We want to answer these questions by sharing past examples of how your responses and opinions have made an impact.

We conducted a survey of U.K. consumers of Buy-Now-Pay-Later (BNPL) products (i.e. Afterpay, Klarna, etc.). The results make the case for bringing in immediate regulations to protect vulnerable consumers from a growing and unmanageable debt gap they will be increasingly challenged to repay—avoiding a repeat of the payday lending crises of 2018.

The study also revealed that regulators need to be more forceful in communicating with the public, as a majority (56%) of users assumed they were using a regulated product from the Financial Conduct Authority, and when told it wasn’t regulated, over eight-in-ten (83%) thought it should be.

BNPL emerged in the findings as a popular means for many (27%) U.K. consumers who used the short-term financing service throughout 2021—with one-in-five (21%) specifically using it for their Christmas shopping.

Person using a laptop, with a credt or debit card in their right hand

The study found that the appeal of BNPL among consumers is widespread, with an average age of 35. However, that average belies the fact that a much greater proportion (43%) of the younger generation (aged 18-24) used BNPL in 2021, with almost half (21%) who specifically bargained to do so for their recent holiday season gift buying.

This lack of a regulatory cap on an expanding reality has resulted in a vast majority (84%) of the consumers who partake in these services having multiple agreements. Many of them are facing increasing challenges to repay the debts fully and on time—a most disturbing echo of the BNPL payment crisis looming in 2022.

To the point, the findings revealed that only six-in-ten (59%) of these consumers are ‘very confident’ in being able to meet their current obligations to paying on time. This drops to an even lower level (56%) of confidence to pay for those who are below the age of 35 with the same commitments.

Further, it appears that a vulnerable group of young customers are on a slippery slope into debt as they are tempted to spend more than they can afford for timely repayments: a sizable majority (64%) of 18–24-year-olds admit that they have often spent all their money before the next pay cheque or other income support. When the age yardsticks are moved just a bit, it reveals a similar situation for those aged 18-34 (55%), which in turn prompts many of that group (45%) to regularly use an overdraft facility on their account.

This article was adapted from the Maru Group Blog.


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Maru Voice UK is one of the country’s leading online market research panels. We send you surveys, you complete them, we give you rewards, and you make a difference. For each survey you complete, you earn entries into monthly sweepstakes programs and points that can be redeemed for gift cards from a variety of popular online retailers. We then share your responses with organizations ranging from household brands, government bodies, not-for-profits, and the media who want to better understand the opinions of Britons. Have your voice heard by joining the Maru Voice UK community today.

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