Government considering action over 'buy now, pay later' services

The Government is considering taking action over 'buy now, pay later' services.

The public is being urged to share their experience using the likes of Afterpay, which lets shoppers buy things immediately and pay for them later, in split amounts. 

The modern form of a traditional lay-buy falls outside most financial law, but a crackdown is on the cards. 

The satisfaction of shopping is made easier by using buy-now pay-later services, but for some it's made spending money you don't have too easy. 

"We don't want people taking on unaffordable or unsustainable debt - that is something we've had reports on," Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister David Clark tells Newshub.

If you're one of the 500,000 Kiwis using the likes of Afterpay, Laybuy or ZipPay, the Government wants to hear from you. 

"We want to understand exactly what is happening in this rapidly changing landscape so we can make any interventions we need to," Clark says.

The most extreme intervention the Minister is considering, is forcing 'buy now, pay later' companies to be subject to financial laws.

These services currently fall outside of the law because they don't charge interest, only late fees. 

AfterPay's spokesman told Newshub that it "strongly supports regulation", and it's "great to see the Government heading in this direction". 

The co-founder of Laybuy says any regulation should include "credit checking and reporting, credit limits and a financial hardship policy to help customers in hot water."

Many of their customers are already in debt. In January this year, 63 percent of people using 'buy now, pay later' services, said they were somewhat or extremely concerned about their debt levels. 

The chair of ANZ Bank, Sir John Key, is encouraging all borrowers to pay down debt. 

"Man we've gotta be careful about how much we rack up on the credit card," Key tells Newshub.

Especially as inflation increases the price of almost everything. 

"Inflation robs people of their spending," Key says. "It has a disproportionately big impact on fixed income people, like retirees, and low-income people, so inflation is never good for an economy, and it's sort of a fool's growth." 

With Christmas just around the corner, more people may turn to buy now, pay later.

"We want people to have good cheer at Christmas time, but we don't want them to wake up with a financial hangover when the tinsel comes down," Clark says.  

Because a debt headache lasts longer than the average hangover. 

Watch the full story above.