Credit Bureaus Adding Buy Now, Pay Later Products to Credit Reports
American Banker reports that the major credit bureaus are adding designations for Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) products such as AfterPay and Klarna.
Beginning in the next few weeks, Equifax will add a business industry code for BNPL to classify data such as payment history, a move that will make BNPL loans visible on credit reports. Equifax says this will provide clients and scoring partners the ability to decide how to include BNPL payments into their own decision making for new financial services. At the same time, TransUnion is working on its own BNPL credit reporting service.
The American Banker piece notes:
The move to add data on BNPL products to consumer credit files comes as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has opened an inquiry into the relatively new short-term loan products.
“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. “We have ordered Affirm, Afterpay, Klarna, PayPal, and Zip to submit information so that we can report to the public about industry practices and risks.”
Consumer advocates have raised concerns about the BNPL products and their long-term impact on consumer credit and debt.
Lauren Saunders of the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) says of these products:
“Buy-now-pay-later products, if affordable and truly free to the consumer, may help consumers manage larger purchases without the long-term debt and high costs of credit cards. But some BNPL products may have deceptive and abusive profit models built on the expectation of late fees from struggling consumers.
Move Comes as Credit Bureaus Face New Scrutiny
Even as the credit bureaus move to provide reporting of these new financial products, the bureaus themselves are facing renewed scrutiny due to their resistance to effectively resolve consumer complaints.