With Square preparing to acquire Afterpay for $29 billion, the buy now, pay later (BNPL) space is hotter than ever. The Square-Afterpay deal will see Afterpay integrated into both the Seller and Cash apps to offer BNPL services to a much wider range of merchants of all sizes.
“We’ve been seeing growing consumer demand for alternative payment and credit options, and Square’s acquisition of Afterpay certainly reflects that trend,” Mark Rosales, vice president of payments for eCommerce platform BigCommerce, told PYMNTS. “Merchants are increasingly offering buy now, pay later and other options, and if they aren’t implementing them now, they risk losing customers to those that do.”
And while Veronica Katz, chief revenue officer for rival BNPL firm Sezzle, said there’s always speculation about future consolidation of BNPL platforms, “the space is really big. There’s a lot of room for us all to play right now.”
“What I think you’re going to find is just like merchants see Visa, Mastercard and American Express bringing different types of consumers to them — they’ve all got different kinds of personalities — there are instances where some merchants do dual-installs or try multiple partners,” Katz told PYMNTS.
To that end, BigCommerce has named Sezzle as its preferred BNPL provider amid growing demand for the payment option. The preferred partnership, which was unveiled on Tuesday (Aug. 3), won’t remove other BNPL companies from BigCommerce, Rosales said, as the platform has several merchants that request specific BNPL providers.
“But we often are in a position where the merchants don’t have a preference,” Rosales told PYMNTS. “And it’s in those instances where we now have the opportunity to serve Sezzle as a key preferred partner of our for consideration.”
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One of the differentiators that attracted BigCommerce to Sezzle, Rosales said, is the BNPL platform’s Sezzle Up product, which allows consumers to build credit without taking on a large amount of debt. “We really like their product, and consumer feedback on that product has been very high,” he said.
BigCommerce and Sezzle also serve similar clientele, Rosales said, and “our goals and how we look at the markets are really aligned.”
Katz sees a lot of synergies between her company and BigCommerce, which is why this partnership makes sense for both companies. “On the consumer side, we authentically care about being that financial co-pilot for the consumer,” she said. “For our smaller businesses, we really care about what we can do to pull our muscle and weight.”
The announcement of the preferred partnership comes on the heels of several high-profile partnerships and acquisitions for both companies, including BigCommerce’s purchase of Feedonomics last week and the eCommerce platform’s partnership with Mercado Libre, which enables BigCommerce merchants sell in Latin America.
Rosales said BNPL has quickly become a “table stakes offering,” meaning that merchants who don’t offer it as a payment option will likely miss out on customers. “We’ve seen a lot of growth in this space, and it’s part of a broader payments suite that we offer our customers, including card payments and digital wallets,” Rosales said.
Katz noted that the entry of more established payments companies, such as Mastercard, Visa and Discover, only adds to the credibility of how important BNPL has become. According to PYMNTS research conducted in conjunction with Afterpay, 39 percent of millennials who do not use BNPL would like to do so via digital wallets, and 48 percent of BNPL users would not purchase from a merchant unless they offered the payment method.
By 2025, the global volume of installment payment transactions is expected to reach $1 trillion.
“This is about this next-gen shopper who wants to shop smart,” Katz said. “They want to be able to manage their finances and their money, and this is a trend that’s here to stay.”
Apple is also reportedly exploring a BNPL platform of its own with Goldman Sachs, the financial institution tied to the Apple Card. Apple Pay Later, as the effort is billed, would in some respects mirror the Apple Card program that allows consumers to buy Apple items with 0 percent financing if paid for within 24 months.