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Treasury set to shelve BNPL regulations

Treasury set to shelve BNPL regulations

The government is poised to shelve plans to crack down on Britain’s fast-growing 'buy now pay later' (BNPL) industry, Sky News learns.

According to the report, Treasury officials have been told during recent talks with the industry that a number of its biggest players could quit the UK market if they are subjected to "heavy-handed" regulation.

The UK Treasury in February commenced its long-awaited consultation on the FCA’s regulation of the booming buy now, pay later sector. Among the proposals set out by the regulator were for credit agreements laying out the terms of deals when people take them out, and for retailers promoting the services to ensure people understand the risks. The consultation also suggested section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act should apply, making BNPL providers jointly liable for the contract with the retailer in the same way that credit card providers are.

Fintech industry body Innovate Finance slammed the proposals, arguing that the measures would be more onerous than those that apply to credit cards.

One source told Sky News that a final decision had yet to be taken but that the Treasury was leaning towards kicking the proposals into the long grass, amid Whitehall concerns that it could curb the availability of low-interest products.

Delays to BNPL regulation are likely to spark a furious response from consumer campaign groups, which have long campaigned for a crackdown on the practice amid concerns that the industry is piling up debt among cash-strapped consumers. Consumer group Which? in particular, has called for stronger safeguards after publishing research which indicates that shoppers view BNPL products as budgeting solutions rather than credit.

Comments: (3)

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 25 July, 2023, 05:242 likes 2 likes

Sad. Legislation is ncessary to prevent expoltation of the weakest in society who are also the less well off financially.

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune 25 July, 2023, 11:57Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

YaaY I'm happy to hear this. If a govt can't take steps to stop people from needing loans, then it shouldn't take steps to stop people from taking loans. 

It's easy to talk about predatory interest etc., but it's daft to compare BNPL with loans available to 850 FICO score borrowers. Compared to loan sharks, BNPL rates are definitely lower. I always felt that protests against BNPL are lame.

If banks and fintechs don't give loan, they will be accused of elitism and thwarting financial inclusion. If they do give loan, they will be accused of irresponsible lending and preying on the vulnerable. End of the day, the decision to take a loan or not is down to the consumer. Govt. should ensure that borrowers are in a position to take responsibility for their actions instead of engaging in regulatory overreach on the supplier side. 

Craig Focardi
Craig Focardi - Celent - San Francisco 25 July, 2023, 16:11Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes I agree with the above comments I am both pro business and pro regulation. If being PL is to become a viable product, fair regulation is essential for the industry I can’t wait to see if the NPL is a good deal for both merchants and consumers and the BNPL lenders. It is already on the market with perhaps too many players, so I think the good ones will do just fine with regulation as for the others, sayonara!