“Buy now, pay later” (BNPL) loans surged in popularity during Black Friday and Cyber Monday in late November. As Christmas is less than a week away, Walmart shoppers have been greeted with a new BNPL payment at the checkout line. The increased use of BNPL is incredibly problematic for consumers with insurmountable credit card debt and depleted savings.
Affirm Holdings announced Tuesday that its BNPL service has been expanded to self-checkout kiosks at 4,500 Walmart stores nationwide. Customers can purchase electronics, apparel, toys, and many more items (except groceries) by spreading payments out from three months to 24 months.
“Recent Affirm research revealed that more than half of Americans (54%) are looking for retailers to offer a buy now, pay later option at checkout. Moreover, we’ve found that 76% of consumers would either delay or not make a purchase without Affirm,” said Pat Suh, Affirm’s SVP of Revenue.
Suh continued, “Expanding our partnership with Walmart and bringing Affirm’s transparent monthly pay-over-time options to their self-checkout kiosks in the US will help even more consumers increase their purchasing power during the holiday shopping season and beyond.”
A number of government agencies and even the central bank of central banks (Bank for International Settlements) have warned about the BNPL craze.
Last month, the US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) – the powerful federal banking regulator – sounded the alarm over increased usage of BNPL.
OCC warned about the overuse and poor understanding of the BNPL payment structure that could lead to disastrous outcomes for consumers if payments are missed.
A report published earlier this month by the Bank for International Settlements said BNPL is mainly being used by young adults, particularly those with low education and maxed-out credit cards.
Other major retailers might follow Walmart’s lead. It’s never a good sign when retailers expand the purchasing power of broke consumers.