Consumers may have bought big ticket items like cars with zero money down, but they don’t usually walk out of clothing or electronic stores without paying for their products in full. But now, for the first time ever, they can open a “tab” with the tech giant Apple. The exciting announcement came during Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference this past June. The hype during that event was not about a new gadget or device; it was all about the new buy now/pay later (BNPL) feature on the Apple Store.
The evolution of BNPL
BNPL is by no means a new concept in retail. The current flavor of delayed payment is familiar in some ways to past iterations, but still has a few surprises up its sleeve.
Layaway plans made their appearance after the financial hardship of the Great Depression. Stores allowed customers to put products on hold with a small down payment and then pay the remainder of the balance in installments. On the day of the final payment, customers took possession of their items. While today’s BNPL plans are similar, customers will be happy to discover that in today’s model, they receive instant ownership of their products without having to wait.
Layaway remained the most popular payment plan until it was overshadowed by credit cards in the 1980s. Unlike credit card payments, customers make their BNPL payments on a fixed schedule spaced out over a number of weeks. Best of all, the BNPL model has no interest fees if consumers follow the payment schedule.
BNPL is on the rise
Apple’s big announcement has allowed it to claim the biggest space in the BNPL market, but the tech company is not alone, joining other notable players including Klarna,