A new collaboration between U.K.-based buy now, pay later (BNPL) platform Butter and Nasdaq-listed global web innovator Opera will enable U.K.-based shoppers and Opera’s 380 million active users worldwide to use an optional in-browser BNPL extension for any product purchased using an Opera browser.
Commenting on the joint collaboration in a Dec. 15 press release, Butter Co-founder and CEO Timothy Davis said the BNPL service is gaining traction around the world as people across a broad range of industries embrace the possibility of spreading payments over several installments.
“Our focus has always been to deliver a consumer-driven proposition based on the fundamentals of fair lending, flexibility, and great consumer experience, with a vision for tech-enabled innovation that is shared throughout the Opera business, so our partnership was a no-brainer,” Davis said.
He added, “This is a huge first for the BNPL industry, and we’re naturally excited to be partnering with a global technology business as large as Opera and introducing Butter to their millions of users.”
For Paul Andrews, vice president at Opera, the deal is part of Opera’s wider eCommerce strategy to create a frictionless and safe shopping experience for users, with additional benefits such as Dify cash-back and coupon solutions available in the U.K.
“And following our commitment to consumer privacy and security, it makes sense for us to choose Butter, the first regulated BNPL provider which shares our values, as our partner,” Andrews said.
Founded in 2017, Butter is the first BNPL lender to be regulated by the country’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and has since its launch grown into a FinTech platform with over 100,000 customers, offering installments across multiple consumer verticals.
UK BNPL Regulation Looms
The pandemic economy has given way to a huge BNPL boom in many countries across the globe, and in the U.K., its use nearly quadrupled in 2020 to 2.7 billion pounds (about $3.6 billion) of transactions, according to official data from the FCA.
Last month, UK parliamentarian Stella Creasy called for urgent regulation of BNPL providers, over concerns the industry was moving at a rapid pace, which combined “with the failure of the government to act as quickly, will have very severe repercussions for consumers this Black Friday, and this Christmas.”
Creasy said the new form of credit “is being aggressively marketed and shoved down their throats without any protection at all” and will bring burdensome consequences on consumers who were already struggling to cover their costs with credit cards and high-interest loans prior to the pandemic.
Citizens Advice, a U.K. organization assisting people with legal, debt, consumer, housing and other issues, has also made calls for the sector to be regulated, on the basis that the no-interest terms are not enough protection against the risk of late payment fees when borrowers are unable to meet repayment deadlines.
In response to these growing calls, the U.K. government launched a public consultation on BNPL regulation in October seeking comments from stakeholders until Jan. 6, 2022. After reviewing these opinions, the government is expected to propose new regulation, which could be adopted sometime next year.
In a recent interview with PYMNTS, Gary Rohloff, co-founder and managing director of New Zealand-headquartered BNPL firm Laybuy, which has operations in the U.K., said the company is very receptive to the “appropriate” suggestions made by the U.K. government.
Read Rohloff’s interview: Merchant Education Key to Buy Now Pay Later Adoption in the UK
He highlighted, however, a misunderstanding around the debt risks involved when it comes to BNPL: “Our average order value is only 72 pounds (about $96) [so] you’re not talking about people racking up thousands of pounds of debt with Laybuy,” he said. “These are smaller purchases paid off over six weeks, not large items paid off over three, four or five years.”