How a Pandemic has Changed Payment Needs and Preferences of the Global Consumer Shift in Consumer Behavior
Covid-19 marked a significant shift in consumer behavior. As retailers scrambled to fulfill social distancing needs customers began to demand more flexible contactless payment options. There was an increase in bank transfers and QR code usage across the globe but more importantly we saw a rapid demand for digital payments options like e-wallet payments including apple pay and google pay. As contactless payments moved to the forefront of consumer needs retailers began to see a rise in popularity of a new type of payment opportunity: Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL).
As the unemployment rate rose amidst a global pandemic income loss and financial uncertainty became an important topic in many households. Consumers began to look at ways to save money and alternative methods to not only pay but also borrow money. This became a driving factor in the surge for the demand of Buy Now Pay Later services. A national study by The Ascent showed that “41% (of consumers) say they’ve (used BNPL) to conserve cash in case of an emergency, while 25% say it’s because they lost income.” And that is not all, we are seeing BNPL surge in popularity in Asia and Latin America as major tech players rush to fill the gap in demand for this type of service and other dominant ecommerce retailers such as Mercado Libre and Amazon continue to see a rise in BNPL options for many of its products.
What is BNPL and How Does it Work?
Buy Now Pay Later is an incredibly appealing model for your average consumer and here is why: BNPL method allows customers to delay the payment of a product like credit cards, but unlike credit cards the user will not incur interest on their transaction. BNPL method not only gives the customer instant gratification of purchasing a product that could be out of their current price range, but they will also not have to pay hefty interest rates. Additionally, BNPL users can also agree to small installment payments meaning they can break the payment across an allotted time frame without the pitfalls of soliciting or owning a credit card.
The Future of BNPL in an uncertain world
As the pandemic accelerated commerce in an online world will trends that received a surge during the pandemic continue to be part of how we transact online? One key indicator that BNPL is here to stay is the fact that it has become an inseparable payment method with a younger generation. With such a low barrier of entry consumers ages 18-24 whom might not have a long credit history or have limited resources could prove to be the new generation that launches BNPL permanently into the future. Research published in The Ascent showed that among this consumer age group “52% used BNPL or short-term loans in the past twelve months, compared to only 12% of those older than 65.” This means that gen-x could be drafting the new blueprint of consumer payment option demands.
As many retailers are grappling to understand what post pandemic recovery means for the internet world it is clear to see that demand for BNPL will continue to be a permanent fixture in how we transact online.
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