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UK wants industry feedback on proposed BNPL regulation

The news: The UK government is one step closer to enacting buy now, pay later (BNPL) regulation after the Treasury released draft legislation on Tuesday.

The government invited industry stakeholders to provide feedback during an eight-week consultation period for the text, which would bring BNPL providers under the purview of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Key context: The FCA examined the UK’s BNPL market and the financial risks that BNPL products can pose to consumers in the 2021 Woolard Review. The report concluded that the BNPL sector urgently needed to be regulated.

The UK Treasury has since published several consultations on how to best approach BNPL regulation and used that feedback to inform the draft text:

  • Some proposed rules include requiring BNPL providers to carry out eligibility checks and making it easier for consumers to report complaints.
  • The legislation also plans to amend financial marketing rules to ensure BNPL advertisements aren’t misleading.

Why it’s worth watching: UK BNPL demand ratcheted up during the pandemic and then again in recent months as consumers found their finances strained. Growing demand under these circumstances may be fueling the push for BNPL regulation in the UK.

The UK’s cost-of-living crisis has only exacerbated BNPL affordability and debt concerns: Among current and prospective BNPL users, 27% said inflation played a role in deciding to use BNPL. Another 29% blamed their inability to afford the purchase price.

What this means for BNPL providers: Targeted regulation on the BNPL industry may force providers to tweak their operations, which could hurt revenues in the short term. But transparent terms and thorough eligibility checks could set providers on the path to long-term success by fostering consumer trust and minimizing delinquencies.

This article originally appeared in Insider Intelligence's Payments Innovation Briefing—a daily recap of top stories reshaping the payments industry. Subscribe to have more hard-hitting takeaways delivered to your inbox daily.