ASIC has published a new report on the buy now pay later industry which has grown substantially since ASIC’s initial review.
The total amount of credit extended in the buy now pay later industry has almost doubled in 12 months. ASIC’s latest report (REP 672), an industry update, charts the growth and popularity of these arrangements.
Notably, the number of buy now pay later transactions increased from 16.8 million in the 2017-18 financial year to 32.0 million in the financial year 2018-19, representing an increase of 90%.
ASIC’s research shows that one in five consumers are missing payments. In the 2018–19 financial year, missed payment fee revenue for all buy now pay later providers in the review totalled over $43 million, a growth of 38% compared to the previous financial year.
Buy now pay later arrangements are clearly popular as a payment method. While working for the majority of users, some consumers are suffering harm.
There are regulatory changes coming that will impact the industry, with the design and distribution obligations coming into effect in October 2021.
The industry is also developing a code of conduct. ASIC expects the industry to work collectively to develop a code that provides good consumer outcomes across the diverse range of business models operating in the industry.
Together the regulatory changes and the code of conduct provide an opportunity for the industry to address consumer harm.
Buy now pay later arrangements allow consumers to buy and receive goods and services immediately from a merchant, and repay a buy now pay later provider over time. These arrangements continue to be embraced by many consumers as a payment option for goods and services and as part of the further evolution of the retail payments and consumer credit markets.
This review follows on from our earlier scan of the buy now pay later industry: see Report 600 Review of buy now pay later arrangements, released in November 2018.
ASIC’s report focuses on the growth of the industry, the impact on consumers and the regulatory developments since REP 600. Policy and regulation of the buy now pay later industry remain a matter for Government and, ultimately, the Parliament.
From October 2021, the design and distribution obligations will apply to buy now pay later arrangements. These obligations will require the industry to design fit-for-purpose products that meet consumer needs. They will also need to take steps to ensure their products are reaching the right consumers.
ASIC’s current review considered aggregated data from six buy now pay later providers and four major financial institutions. The buy now pay later providers we reviewed were: Afterpay, BrightePay, Humm, Openpay, Payright and Zip Pay.
ASIC also commissioned consumer research to help understand consumer behaviour and experiences with buy now pay later arrangements.
Moneysmart.gov.au explains how buy now pay later services work and gives some tips on what to look out for if you use buy now pay later services.