Top 10 most transparent BNPL fintechs

By William Girling
Buy now, pay later (BNPL) fintechs are transforming how customers manage payments, but do they truly understand what they’re signing up for...

Data is one of the most valuable assets in business today, and every time a customer joins a new service they invariably must read and agree to that company’s terms and conditions (T&Cs).

But how much attention do people actually pay to them? One study found that only 1% of us actually read what we’re signing up for. Therefore, a question arises: is the onus strictly on the user, or should companies try harder to make sure their T&Cs are concise and comprehensible?

Using research carried out by NerdWallet, we explore 10 BNPL and credit-based fintechs arranged by the clarity of their app’s T&Cs.

Note: All images sourced from respective company's website

10: Payl8r

 

This UK fintech declares that it’s “No.1 for millennial finance” and is currently available in over 1,000 retailers, both in-store and online.

However, Payl8r has the lowest clarity score on this list despite neither being the most verbose or time consuming. This suggests that the text itself is simply too complicated and requires optimising. In fact, it could be argued that if something cannot be explained in simple terms it is not fully understood in the first instance.

Word count: 9,788

Average time to read (minutes): 41.13

Clarity: 39% 

09: Klarna

As of August 2019 , Klarna was the largest fintech in Europe, following a US$460mn round of funding. Clocking in at a valuation of $5.5bn, the company continues to grow exponentially, with the addition of 50,000 new customers each week, who choose to pay for items 30 days later, or divide the cost across three months with Klarna’s 1,500 retailers. One of Klarna’s most notable partners is ASOS, the online-only retailer that is reputed for its free delivery and returns, providing the financial services company with access to an additional 80 million active customers across 250 countries.

 

Valuation: US$5.5bn

Headquarters: Sweden

08: Splitit

 

Although Splitit’s T&Cs are the third-shortest on this list, only half of those who read them gained comprehension. Clarity of language, as well as economy, is vital. 

Word count: 6,781

Average time to read (minutes): 28.49

Clarity: 51% 

07: Zilch

 

Zilch’s word count is second only to Klarna in terms of length, yet it still manages to score a higher clarity rank than Splitit, whose own T&Cs are almost 50% shorter.

Word count: 11,364

Average time to read (minutes): 47.75

Clarity: 54% 

06: DivideBuy

 

DivideBuy scored the same clarity percentage as Zilch, although it did so with far fewer words and a shorter reading time.

Customers’ time is precious and they must not feel like it is being wasted. In this instance, it can be gleaned that if terms are going to be a difficult read they should at least be concise.

Word count: 7,282

Average time to read (minutes): 30.6

Clarity: 54% 

05: Clearpay, Laybuy, Average

 

Although there is some variance in their word count and reading time, this was apparently not significant enough to impact these three companies’ T&C clarity.

Word count: 8,673 to 9,290

Average time to read (minutes): 36.44 to 39.03

Clarity: 60% 

04: AppToPay

 

AppToPay offers 0% interest and payment intervals that can be spread over a 12 month period, if desired.

Word count: 6,026

Average time to read (minutes): 25.32

Clarity: 65%

03: Openpay

 

Significantly longer than AppToPay (3,204 words), Openpay is still only 1% more clear in the terms of its service. This indicates that there is potential for refinement.

Word count: 9,230

Average time to read (minutes): 38.78

Clarity: 66%

02: PayPal Credit

 

Self-described as “a credit card without the plastic”, PayPal Credit enables customers to gain 0% interest for four months on purchases of £99 or more. This can be repeated on as many qualifying purchases as desired.

Despite being almost 50% longer than our #1 entry, PayPal’s T&Cs still achieved an admirable 74% clarity rate. This seems to illustrate that the quality, as well as the quantity, of the language is important.

Word count: 8,262

Average time to read (minutes): 34.71

Clarity: 74% 

01: Zip

 

Zip is an Australian fintech specialist in the rising BNPL market.

It’s no surprise that the company with the shortest word count is also the most comprehensible. Evidently, Zip understands that the T&Cs of BNPL are crucial for this new form of credit. 

Word count: 4,917

Average time to read (minutes): 20.66

Clarity: 92% 

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