You’d have thought that only items with hefty price tags, such as an air-conditioning system or a smart TV, can be paid via instalments.
But what if I were to tell you that shoes can be paid for in instalments too?
Yes, you heard that right. Shoes.
Buy Now Pay Later
Previously, if you want to pay in instalments, you’ll either need a credit card, or an in-house arrangement with the brand in question.
However, with the Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) scheme, things are changing.
BNPL are short-term payment plans allowing consumers to pay for their small-ticket items over time.
The best part? They have no interest fees and do not require a credit card.
BNPL are popular overseas in the US, Australia and Europe, but seems to be growing in Singapore as well.
In 2020, two new companies offering BNPL, OctiFi and Pace, entered the Singapore market.
With that, there are now five such companies in Singapore, including Rely, which was the first to set up in 2017, hoolah (2018) and Atome (end-2019).
A new report from US financial technology leader FIS says BNPL is the fastest growing online payment method in Singapore.
By 2024, they are expected to account for 13% of the entire market here.
Atome has 100,000 users and is experiencing a growth of 20% a month while hoolah said it experienced a “phenomenal” growth of 400% last year.
Zalora and Other Retailers Allow Customers to Pay for their Shoes in Instalments Using the Buy Now Pay Later Schemes
According to a CNA report, a user who was purchasing a pair of Adidas slip-on shoes from Zalora online came across the payment option and took it up because of the S$20 cashback for first-time users.
The four companies that CNA spoke to mentioned that there is a demand for their services from retailers as well.
In a pandemic, paying in instalments is an attractive option to consumers.
According to Hoolah, merchants they’ve partnered up with reported, on average, a 20 to 40 per cent jump in conversion and order sizes.
Pace reported a similar phenomenon, saying that its partners’ sales have jumped by 15 to 20 per cent within the first 30 days.
There are no sign-up fees for merchants on the various BNPL platforms and the risk is carried almost entirely by the BNPL companies.
Other than a 4 to 6 per cent cut at the checkout point, merchants are paid the full amount of them.
In other words, chances are, more retailers might just sign up with BNPL, allowing consumers to enjoy this option when buying smaller items.
Still a Debt
However, don’t go crazy with BNPL because, at the end of the day, it’s still a debt.
Local BNPL companies are offering an interest-free 3-month repayment plan. Anyone over the age of 18 with a debit or credit card can create an account.
While there are no other account or sign-up fees imposed, users who are unable to pay will have their accounts frozen and face penalties.
This includes late-fee penalties, which could go as high as S$60.
In other countries, regulatory authorities are looking at reviewing and tightening regulations in the emerging industry.
Mr Anton Ruddenklau, partner and head of financial services at KPMG Singapore, said the emergence of such services raises a moral dilemma.
“Are we encouraging people to have unaffordable lifestyles? Are we encouraging people to go into debt although they may not see it as debt and just see it as three easy payments?”
In Singapore, the Monetary Association of Singapore (MAS) said they’re reviewing the regulatory approach for the industry here.
The central bank is currently reaching out to the industry for more information on their business and developments in the space.
In the meanwhile, a spokesperson for the authority urged Singaporeans to be mindful that BNPL plans are still “debts” that has to be repaid.
“Where consumers are not careful and overspend, such schemes can still result in overstretched finances and cause potential financial distress.”
Feature Image: Facebook (Zalora)