The Wall Street Journal reports that some of the Buy Now, Pay Later fintechs that promised a “credit revolution” face a reckoning of higher costs and more delinquencies as business stalls in a tough economy. We at U.S. PIRG are shocked, shocked that a business model that generally asserts it is neither revolving nor installment credit so it doesn’t need to fully underwrite “loans” nor comply with consumer protection laws just might be unsustainable.
But we’re more concerned about its customers than the firms. As we warned in our March report “The Hidden Costs of Buy Now, Pay Later:”
“We maintain our concerns that the vast data collection and monetization engines run by Big Tech firms are designed to fuel an explosion of buying and an increase in consumer debt for stuff we don’t need and can’t afford and, too often, end up throwing away.”
And as Consumer Reports recently warned, BNPL is not just for extending payments on clothing and appliances anymore. Some BNPL plans allow you to purchase food and groceries, too. You can eat your food, but still owe more money…for weeks and weeks. But when you’re behind (underwater!) on your food bill, how can you afford to buy more food?