Regulators Open Probe Into Red Hot ‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ Industry

Regulators in Washington may crack down on the industry behind "buy now, pay later," the increasingly popular method for consumers to purchase things online. From a report: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said Thursday that it is looking to "collect information on the risks and benefits of these fast-growing loans" from five leading BNPL companies: Affirm; Australia's Afterpay, which is getting bought by Square owner Block; PayPal; privately held Swedish fintech Klarna; and Zip, another BNPL firm headquartered in Australia. "Buy now, pay later is the new version of the old layaway plan, but with modern, faster twists where the consumer gets the product immediately but gets the debt immediately too," said CFPB Director Rohit Chopra in a statement Thursday. The CFPB said it was specifically worried about how quickly consumers can accumulate debt using BNPL services and also about how the BNPL companies may harvest data about their customers. It added that it is working with international partners in Australia, Sweden, Germany and the United Kingdom on the inquiry.

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