MAS Mulls Regulating BNPL Schemes Amidst Concern of Rising Consumer Debt

MAS Mulls Regulating BNPL Schemes Amidst Concern of Rising Consumer Debt

by February 5, 2021

Amidst the popularity of buy now, pay later (BNPL) solutions, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has raised growing concerns over consumers being trapped in unseen debt leading to potential financial difficulties.

The boom in the BNPL solutions have prompted authorities to look into the largely unregulated sector with increased scrutiny.

According to The Business Times, MAS will be “reviewing the appropriate regulatory approach” for the BNPL solutions that are being offered. Steps taken to review these solutions will be “risk-proportionate and evenly applied across providers”.

A MAS spokesperson told The Business Times, “where consumers are not careful and overspend, such schemes can still result in overstretched finances and cause potential financial distress”.

The BNPL solution popularised by Swedish startup Klarna offers flexible payment plans to its consumers allowing them to spread out their payments into several installments over an extended period of time.

This presents a worrying trend as globally, the BNPL market is projected to expand from $7.3 billion in 2019 to approximately $33.6 billion in 2027 according to a report from Coherent Market Insights.

Meanwhile closer to home, approximately 1.1 million Singapore residents which amounts to about 38% of the nation’s population, has used some type of BNPL solution according to a consumer survey by Finder in October 2020.

The rise in BNPL solutions came in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, appealing to the cash-strapped consumers with its flexible payment plans. Often touted as interest-free, most consumers do not realise that they would be subject to late payment fees, unknowingly raking up debt.

MAS is not alone in this as UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) have declared that the BNPL solutions offered will be covered by stricter rules as billions of pounds were being lent in unregulated transactions.

Additionally, Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) who serves as the corporate watchdog had also raised concerns over the BNPL solutions as one in five consumers were reported to have missed payments and were facing financial distress. ASIC said that consumers were making do without essentials or have resorted to taking out additional loans to cope with the BNPL payments.


Featured image via MAS