Thursday, May 11, 2023

Buy Now, Pay Later for Groceries

I was reading through Bloomberg Businessweek when I came across an article titled, "Americans Go Deeper Into Debt as They Use Buy Now, Pay Later Apps for Groceries" [link].

My impression of BNPL is that it is typically spent on clothing, fashion accessories, electronic gadgets and the like. But this is the first time I've read of people resorting to BNPL for grocery supplies. This speaks volumes of the dire straits that some people are currently facing.

Unlike clothing and consumer products that may still have some residual resale value, there is none for groceries since they are meant for literal consumption. One is getting into debt just to put food on the table.

In Singapore, we have government financial assistance for families living at the poverty line. There are also welfare organisations that provide needy families with help. Admittedly the support is targeted and some families, while barely making ends meet, may not qualify, or the amount isn't enough. Hence, BNPL and payday loan may appear as attractive alternatives.

According to Investopedia, BNPL volume could exceed $3.5 trillion by 2030 [link]. From what I understand, there are lower hurdles to getting BNPL financing compared to credit cards.

I hope the BNPL culture does not spawn another debt crisis in the future.

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