Wednesday, 06 November 2019 11:52

Growth surge for Buy-Now-Pay-Later digital payments market Featured

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There has been rapid growth in the buy-now-pay-later digital payments Australian market, with new research revealing 1.95 million Aussies used digital payments in the year to the end of September - up from 1.38 million in the previous 12 months.

The latest report from Roy Morgan Research shows growth in the use of digital payment methods such as Afterpay, zipPay or zipMoney - with Australians under 35 dominating ‘pay later’ users.

Australians between the ages of 14-34 account for 55.9% of ‘buy-now-pay-later’ users, with those in the 25-34 range making up 33.5% of all users. And, to put this in perspective, that age group represents only 18.1% of the population 14+, which means that those aged 25-34 are nearly twice as likely to be using a ‘buy-now-pay-later’ system as the average across the whole population.

By contrast, Australians over 50 make up only 14.2% of pay-later users despite being 40.7% of the population 14+.

According to the research, as a group, those using these systems tend to be employed, earning an average or relatively low wage: 11.7% of buy-now-pay-later users earn between $40,000 and $49,999, compared with just 8.8% of Australians overall, and while 4.4% of Australians overall are in the most cashed-up income group, earning $150,000 a year or more, only 2.2% of buy-now-pay-later users are.

And, while ‘buy-now-pay-later systems’ are growing the use of credit cards is declining, with the percentage of Australians holding a credit card down about 3% points over the past year.

Roy Morgan says the fact that the new point-of-sale credit systems, which appeared in Australia in 2015, fell outside of existing financial regulation led to calls for greater scrutiny from both the banking sector and consumer groups, A Senate enquiry earlier this year led to new obligations for providers and an increase in ASIC’s ability to intervene in the future.

The latest Roy Morgan Wealth Report delves in detail into the long-term trends comprising Net Wealth in Australia encompassing personal assets as well as debt.

The decline in credit card usage over the last year fits into the long-term trends which show there’s been a reduction in real terms in credit card debt over the last decade down to $7 billion today compared to $8 billion in 2007.

Roy Morgan says that while the growth in usage of ‘buy-now-pay-later’ systems has been rapid, overall user numbers are still relatively low, with 9.4% of the population now using them, up from 6.8% a year ago. Even among the heaviest user group, those aged 25-34, only 17.4% are using these payment methods. For Australians aged 65+ usage is below 1%.

Awareness levels, however, are strong, with 52.2% of Australians knowing about ‘pay-later’ systems. The major player in the market is ‘afterpay’, with 49.5% awareness and 8.4% usage over a 12 month period. Second player in the market Zip (inc. ZipPay and ZipMoney) has an awareness of 29.3% and 2.8% usage.

“The payment environment in Australia is facing rapid change and these ‘buy-now-pay-later’ companies are likely to pose a threat to traditional deferred payment options including credit cards, as consumers can easily access a small amount of credit instantly,” says Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine.

“The increasing use of new payment technologies is being aided by the growing proliferation and development of smart phones and wearables with integrated technology such as Apple Pay and Google Pay. Consumers will come to expect the minimum effort when making payments and the industry will need to adapt by providing more innovative and simpler solutions. Traditional financial institutions may need to collaborate with Fintechs and other third parties to keep up with the fast-moving digital payment environment.”

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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