BNPL – Strategy to Balance Profit and Growth

By Abhishek Mithal . June 20, 2023 . Blogs

Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) is a payment option that enables consumers to make purchases and split the total cost into installments without any interest or fees. With BNPL, shoppers can buy products upfront and defer the payment over time, typically in equal installments. As such, it provides an alternative to traditional credit cards and loans, offering convenience and flexibility for consumers. 

Read: What Makes the Buy Now, Pay Later Trend So Popular?

BNPL platforms partner with retailers to offer this payment option, attracting customers with instant gratification and affordability. Lately, BNPL services have experienced a surge in popularity and adoption globally. The convenience and flexibility they offer have resonated with consumers, especially millennials and Gen Z. Many retailers, including e-commerce giants, have integrated BNPL options into their checkout processes, further driving adoption. The ease of use, lack of interest or fees, and simplified application processes have attracted a growing number of users.

Understanding the BNPL Market

According to Allied Market Research, the global BNPL market was valued at $90.69 billion in 2020. It’s projected to reach $3.98 trillion by 2030, at a whopping CAGR of 45.7% during the forecast period. 

The growth of the BNPL industry is fueled by several key factors. 

  • Changing consumer preferences towards more flexible payment options and the desire for financial flexibility have propelled the adoption of BNPL services. 
  • The convenience and simplicity of the BNPL model, with no interest or fees for timely payments, have attracted users seeking an alternative to traditional credit cards. 
  • The rise of eCommerce and online shopping has further boosted the BNPL industry, as it offers a seamless checkout experience. 
  • Moreover, the increasing acceptance of BNPL by merchants and retailers has expanded its availability, driving its overall growth.

Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic served to accelerate the growth of the BNPL market as more consumers sought financial flexibility and affordability.

But while BNPL services have gained popularity, they also come with certain challenges and risks. 

  • One challenge is the potential for consumers to overspend and accumulate debt, especially if they do not adhere to the repayment terms. Late fees and interest charges (depending on the lender) can be significant if payments are missed. 
  • Another risk is the impact on credit scores, as missed or delayed payments could negatively affect creditworthiness. 
  • Furthermore, there are concerns about responsible lending practices.
  • Some critics also argue that BNPL services can encourage impulsive spending and create a false sense of affordability, leading to financial instability for some individuals.


Profit vs. Growth: The Dilemma

The tension between profitability and achieving rapid growth in the BNPL sector arises from the need to acquire a large customer base while managing the risk associated with lending. To drive growth, BNPL providers may prioritize customer acquisition and offer generous terms, such as no interest or fees, which can impact profitability. 

However, balancing profitability requires careful credit risk assessment, responsible lending practices, and operational efficiency. Striking the right balance is crucial as rapid growth without sustainable profitability could lead to financial instability, while excessive focus on profitability may hinder growth and market share.

Prioritizing growth over profitability can lead to risks such as unsustainable business models, excessive debt, and overvaluation. And rapid expansion without generating sufficient profits can strain cash flow and hamper long-term viability. It may also compromise quality, customer experience, and operational efficiency. 


Strategies for Balancing Profit and Growth

Build a Solid Foundation for Profitability

Building a solid foundation for profitability in the BNPL sector involves implementing several key strategies:

  • Implement Effective Risk Assessment & Management

This includes a thorough evaluation of consumer creditworthiness, utilizing credit scoring models, and assessing factors like income, employment history, and previous payment behavior. By accurately assessing the risk profile of customers, BNPL providers can mitigate the chances of defaults and late payments.

  • Set Appropriate Credit Limits and Interest Rates

BNPL providers should establish credit limits that align with the financial capacity of customers. This ensures that repayment obligations are manageable and reduces the risk of defaults. Additionally, setting interest rates that reflect the level of risk associated with lending can help achieve profitability while remaining competitive in the market.

  • Leverage Data Analytics to Enhance Underwriting & Decision-Making

By utilizing advanced data analytics techniques, BNPL providers can gather insights from customer data, transaction patterns, and credit history. This enables them to make more accurate underwriting decisions, identify potential risks, and offer tailored credit terms. 

Prioritize Customer Acquisition and Retention

Prioritizing customer acquisition and retention is vital for the profitability of BNPL businesses. Here are three key strategies to achieve this:

  • Develop Attractive and Competitive Offerings

Offering appealing incentives like no interest or fees for the initial period, flexible repayment options, or exclusive discounts can entice new customers to choose a BNPL service. Furthermore, providing competitive terms and seamless integration with online retailers enhances the value proposition and drives customer acquisition.

  • Invest in Customer Support & Experience

A positive customer experience fosters repeat business and referrals. So, providing excellent customer support, prompt issue resolution, and clear communication channels is essential to build trust and loyalty. To that end, invest in user-friendly interfaces, mobile apps, and self-service options.

  • Implement Targeted Marketing Strategies

Employing data-driven marketing techniques allows for precise targeting of potential customers. By analyzing customer data and behavior, businesses can tailor marketing campaigns to specific demographics or segments. This targeted approach increases the likelihood of acquiring new customers while optimizing marketing spend.

Build Strategic Partnerships

Here’s how it can be achieved:

  • Collaborate with Merchants

Partnering with a wide range of merchants heightens the acceptance of BNPL services, increasing sales volume and transaction frequency. That’s because integrating BNPL as a payment option at checkout drives customer adoption and boosts revenue for both the BNPL provider and the merchant.

  • Explore Partnerships with Financial Institutions

Partnering with established financial institutions enhances the credibility and trustworthiness of BNPL services. Collaboration with banks or payment processors can provide access to their customer base and distribution channels. This bodes well for accelerating customer acquisition and driving market penetration.

  • Leveraging Technology Platforms and Fintech Ecosystems

Engaging with technology platforms or fintech ecosystems opens doors to innovation and growth. For example, integration with popular e-commerce platforms, mobile wallets, or digital marketplaces can expand the reach of BNPL services to a broader audience and offer a seamless user experience. 


Some Regulatory Considerations

Regulators are increasingly scrutinizing BNPL services to ensure consumer protection and responsible lending practices. Concerns over potential risks such as over-indebtedness, hidden fees, and inadequate disclosure have prompted regulatory bodies to review the industry. Regulatory interventions may include:

  • Imposing stricter lending criteria
  • Mandating clearer terms and conditions
  • Enforcing transparency in pricing and repayment obligations

The objective is to strike a balance between promoting innovation and safeguarding consumer interests, ensuring that BNPL services operate fairly and sustainably.

So, compliance with relevant regulations and consumer protection laws is crucial for BNPL providers. Adhering to these laws ensures fair treatment of consumers, protects their rights, and mitigates legal and reputational risks. Compliance further fosters trust, enhances brand reputation, and promotes long-term customer loyalty. It demonstrates a commitment to responsible lending practices and ethical business conduct. 



For players in the BNPL market, key considerations should revolve around:

  • Finding a balance between profitability and growth
  • Implementing effective risk assessment practices
  • Prioritizing customer acquisition and retention

Favorably, strategic partnerships can enhance reach and credibility, while compliance with regulations can ensure consumer protection. Also, leveraging data analytics and technology platforms can help drive innovation and competitiveness. 

By working through these, BNPL providers can navigate the industry landscape, drive profitability, and create sustainable growth while delivering immense value to customers. Connect with us to learn more about how to succeed with BNPL services.

Abhishek Mithal

Abhishek manages customer success and delivery for the India business unit at Verinite. With a deep background of nearly 20 years in the Cards and Payments world, he is a keen follower of the latest trends in that area. He is passionate about wildlife photography and makes time to be amidst nature.

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