Barclays Joins ‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ Boom

Woman looking at online purchased clothing at home

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A major bank has jumped onto the “buy now, pay later” bandwagon, and plans to roll branded installment options out to merchants in the coming months.

Barclays US Consumer Bank announced Tuesday that it has teamed with fintech Amount to develop point-of-sale (POS) financing installment options that would allow consumers to pay for eligible purchases on installment payment plans rather than paying in full. The bank, which offers credit cards for brands like Barnes & Noble and the National Football League, said it will also give merchants using its network the option to offer installment plans under their own brands later this year.

Barclays said it is one of the first major banks to offer buy now, pay later (BNPL) options, as well as one of the first providers to let companies offer POS payments under their own brands. Barclays did not announce which merchants might use the system.

BNPL options have boomed during the pandemic. Analysts with Kaleido Intelligence estimated the amount spent with them annually will nearly double to $680 billion between 2019 and 2025. Companies like Affirm, Klarna, AfterPay, Amazon, and PayPal have popularized the installment plans, particularly with customers who want to spread payments over time without using their credit cards. Usually, BNPL installment plans involve a short, interest-free loan, with fees and/or interest assessed if you don’t pay on time.

“The rise of mobile and online shopping combined with an increase in digital adoption was quickly accelerated by the global pandemic," Amount CEO Adam Hughes said in a statement. "This has created an environment in which POS is the next battleground in consumer financing, wherein banks are well positioned to compete given their stability and cost-of-capital advantages.”