Martin Lewis calls for crackdown on buy-now, late-pay businesses that “target under 30s”
Companies like Klarna – the world’s largest buy it now and pay later provider – allow buyers to purchase items interest-free, with no fees or charges. However, experts say they are targeting those under 30 and are going into a lot of debt.
Image: Ken McKay / ITV / REX / Shutterstock)
Martin Lewis has warned of an “explosion” of buy-now, late-pay businesses that “target those under 30.”
The consumer expert said the government must take action on concerns that many people are falling into debt.
Speaking to the House of Commons select committee, Lewis said regulation is urgently needed against payment providers who allow you to buy items on credit and pay for them later.
“It is absolutely the fastest growing form of credit and it is for people under 30. And if you forgive me, most decision makers are not under 30 and it has gone under. radar. “
Companies like Klarna – the world’s largest buy-it-now and on-payment provider – allow buyers to purchase items without paying upfront, often without interest or fees.
They also offer a “try now, pay later” service that allows the customer to purchase items and return unwanted items without paying the full bill.
The incredibly attractive shopping model means that customers can spend without having to have money in their bank account.
And it works.
Klarna alone has almost 10 million customers in the UK and opens 95,000 accounts per week. Globally, it has 85 million customers and was recently valued at around £ 8 billion.
“The advertising is done by influencers on Instagram, where they push the wellness hashtag Klarna. It’s fundamentally inappropriate for a credit product,” Lewis said.
The consumer expert warned that regulation could be “too late” with millions of buyers already registered on the platforms.
“My problem is, just like with payday loans, it will be too late. It is unregulated, with no control in both product design and communications. When people have a problem – and often it works quite well – there is no mediator. can go, because it is not regulated. I would ask for maximum speed to get this through the regulatory environment. “
But Klarna rejected suggestions that he is targeting vulnerable young adults.
“As far as targeting under 30s is concerned, this is inaccurate,” a spokesperson said.
Get the latest financial tips, news and help straight to your inbox – sign up at mirror.co.uk/email
“Klarna is for anyone who appreciates convenience and wants to spread the cost of shopping, without incurring a fee. The average age of a Klarna customer is 33 and our fastest growing demographic is Generation X – people between the ages of 40 and 54. “
The company said Klarna is a fully licensed bank, but that “not everyone in this industry is.”
Other providers in the UK include ClearPay and LayBuy, which also allow buyers to buy and pay later.
Klarna, founded in Stockholm in 2005, said it fully supports “appropriate regulation” and has engaged with the Financial Conduct Authority on the subject.
What happens to your Buy It Now and Pay Later Debt if a store goes bankrupt?
Arcadia, one of the biggest promoters of buy-now and late-pay businesses, went into administration earlier this month, raising questions about buy-now and late-pay debts – especially for those who have pending orders.
Martyn James of the consumer website Resolver.co.uk says it is a “complicated” situation.
“Technically, your contract is with the company providing the credit. This is a whole new area of retail and bankruptcy, so what happens next remains to be seen. But here’s what should. happen.
“If you are using a ‘try before you buy’ credit where you have 14 or 28 days to try the merchandise before returning or purchasing it, contact the retailer immediately to let them know your intentions. Then speak to BNPL to confirm that you are “returning or keeping the item (s).” Ask them for their advice on returning the goods, ”he said.
“If you pay in installments but don’t pay interest, contact BNPL to find out what happens next.
“Technically you have the goods and your commitment to pay for them remains so things should go on as usual. The debt won’t go away with the retailer, I’m afraid.
“If you have a credit contract that charges interest, you should continue your payments as usual and speak to BNPL if you have any questions about the contract.”