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Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) - statistics & facts

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, payment options like PayPal’s Pay in 4, Klarna, Afterpay, QuadPay and Affirm grew increasingly popular in online shops. One out of three UK consumers used these payments more often than before in early 2020. The reason for this is rather straightforward: Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) apps allow consumers to put down a certain percentage of the overall purchase price, then pay off the rest in installments over a certain period of time. In a time of economic uncertainty or where not everybody can qualify for a credit card, BNPL is a relatively simple way to spread out payments. There are significant differences, however, when comparing the BNPL market share in over 20 domestic e-commerce markets worldwide in 2020. Buy Now Pay Later in both Sweden and Germany, for instance, was around 10 times higher than the penetration rate in the United States. Indeed, the payment options were popular in northwestern Europe but also in Australia and New Zealand: domestic options Afterpay and Zip registered in millions of active users in 2020.

For which products is BNPL being used?

As Buy Now Pay Later is a relatively new phenomenon even in 2021, there is not much data available yet on how people use these payment solutions. Most focus on the user demographics: younger generations in the United Kingdom are more likely to use BNPL than older generation, for instance. This was also true for the United States, although older age groups in the U.S. did use Buy Now Pay Later much more often in 2020 than they did in 2019. This suggests that apps like Klarna or Afterpay are not exclusively used by Millennials or Gen X, potentially meaning people might use these apps for more than, say, fashion. An example of this can be found in Europe: During COVID-19, installment loans in Poland became more popular for specific products, notably electronics – computers or TVs - and household appliances.

A potential pitfall: debts or credit score

One of the big draws of BNPL is that it can give you what you want right now, for seemingly no extra cost. It can, however, potentially impact one’s credit score as BNPL is still effectively a loan – one borrows the remaining price to be paid for the length of the delay period. This can be worrying in a time when, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, credit card debts increase. Indeed, credit card debt was a common reason for many Americans why they could not buy a house in 2020. Whether BNPL has this same impact already is too early to tell in 2021. On the other hand, credit card balances in the United Kingdom declined in 2020 as consumers were repaying debts rather than lending new money.

Key figures

The most important key figures provide you with a compact summary of the topic of "Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL)" and take you straight to the corresponding statistics.

United Kingdom

United States

Australia

Germany

Other interesting statistics

Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) - statistics & facts

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, payment options like PayPal’s Pay in 4, Klarna, Afterpay, QuadPay and Affirm grew increasingly popular in online shops. One out of three UK consumers used these payments more often than before in early 2020. The reason for this is rather straightforward: Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) apps allow consumers to put down a certain percentage of the overall purchase price, then pay off the rest in installments over a certain period of time. In a time of economic uncertainty or where not everybody can qualify for a credit card, BNPL is a relatively simple way to spread out payments. There are significant differences, however, when comparing the BNPL market share in over 20 domestic e-commerce markets worldwide in 2020. Buy Now Pay Later in both Sweden and Germany, for instance, was around 10 times higher than the penetration rate in the United States. Indeed, the payment options were popular in northwestern Europe but also in Australia and New Zealand: domestic options Afterpay and Zip registered in millions of active users in 2020.

For which products is BNPL being used?

As Buy Now Pay Later is a relatively new phenomenon even in 2021, there is not much data available yet on how people use these payment solutions. Most focus on the user demographics: younger generations in the United Kingdom are more likely to use BNPL than older generation, for instance. This was also true for the United States, although older age groups in the U.S. did use Buy Now Pay Later much more often in 2020 than they did in 2019. This suggests that apps like Klarna or Afterpay are not exclusively used by Millennials or Gen X, potentially meaning people might use these apps for more than, say, fashion. An example of this can be found in Europe: During COVID-19, installment loans in Poland became more popular for specific products, notably electronics – computers or TVs - and household appliances.

A potential pitfall: debts or credit score

One of the big draws of BNPL is that it can give you what you want right now, for seemingly no extra cost. It can, however, potentially impact one’s credit score as BNPL is still effectively a loan – one borrows the remaining price to be paid for the length of the delay period. This can be worrying in a time when, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, credit card debts increase. Indeed, credit card debt was a common reason for many Americans why they could not buy a house in 2020. Whether BNPL has this same impact already is too early to tell in 2021. On the other hand, credit card balances in the United Kingdom declined in 2020 as consumers were repaying debts rather than lending new money.

Other interesting statistics

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