Monzo's much heralded buy now, pay later product appears to be more akin to an old-fashioned pre-approved line of credit, giving customers the option to pay off loans interest free over three instalments or incur a 19% APR interest rate for longer instalment plans.
Launched today, Monzo Flex bears all the hallmarks of a traditional credit card, giving users the flexibility to defer the full upfront payment of purchases both instore and online within an agreed credit limit, up to a maximum of £3000.
WHile Monzo Flex is a world away from the checkout button options provided by the new wave of BNPL players like Klarna and Afterpay, tthe product includes some nice touches. These include the ability to roll back the clock on previous purchases and the means to split a transaction, set your own credit ceiling and edit your payment plan. Hard credit checks by Monzo will also appear on the customer's credit score, an upside from the hidden debt disguised by traditional BNPL firms.
The digital bank is now offering early access to Monzo Flex, which requires users to apply for a credit line within the app and receive a decision within minutes. The credit line can be used for purchases over £30, with Monzo taking the first instalment right away and then monthly until it's paid off.
James Andrews of money.co.uk ponders the potential impact of the launch for the booming BNPL market: “Putting affordability assessments and credit checks in place could lead to potential repercussions if payments are late or missed; but showing that this is possible to do also means that other BNPL providers will struggle to argue that this kind of transparency isn’t possible.
“The extent to which the current industry giants will feel the impact of ‘Flex’ could be limited. Consumers often turn to BNPL providers due to the convenience at points of sale and Monzo would therefore need to tempt customers and retailers away from existing BNPL providers.
“When it comes to the question of whether other regulated banks will follow suit with BNPL offerings, that still remains to be seen. "