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Has The End Of The Pandemic Stunted Buy Now Pay Later Demand?

March 4, 2022

"Buy now, pay later," or BNPL companies have come under the spotlight of financial watchdogs.

Companies such as Affirm, Klarna, PayPal, and Zip have been sent orders so the watchdog can collect information on the risks and benefits of these fast-growing loans.

The Bureau state that analysts believe "BNPL has rerouted big holiday shopping money away from the credit card companies towards these companies, putting an enormous amount of consumer debt on their books."

According to a study from Barclays, many people who utilize BNPL don’t fully understand how it works.

BNPL stocks saw share prices surge during the period as investors took note of their popularity, with more people utilizing the payment installment plan when shopping online.

But is Consumer Demand for the payment installment plan where it was during the pandemic?

Looking at Affirm — whose shares are down 61% in 2022 — we can see that while Consumer Purchase Intent Mentions have taken a dip in the first quarter, trending -13% QoQ, they are still largely up, rising +26% YoY.

Meanwhile, Klarna, which has around 20 million US customers, has seen a slight dip in Q1, but not enough to put its consumer demand in negative territory at +2% QoQ and +28% YoY.

Block (formerly Square) and PayPal Consumer Purchase Intent mentions are at +35% QoQ, +3% YoY and +22% QoQ, +5% YoY, respectively. Both provide BNPL on their platforms.

So, consumer demand for individual companies and their services hasn't yet been impacted by the end of the pandemic or the inquiry.

Of course, the share prices of PayPal, Affirm, and Block tell a different story, but broader risk factors are at play there. For now, we are just focused on the demand for the payment method itself.

So, what about BNPL overall?

Well, as you can see, that too hasn't taken a dent, with Overall Mentions up 11% QoQ and 36% YoY.

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