50% of the population plans to use buy now pay l


The Affirm hype train has left the station.

This interview is excellent if you’re a fan of Affirm. In this interview, Max Levchin claims Affirm has nearly a million people on the waitlist for the Affrim+ debit card. And the survey referred to in the headline, which for context they conducted across both Affirm customers and non-cusomers, found that 50% of respondents plan to use BNPL this holiday.



Has anyone used Affirm or a different BNPL company? I just do not understand the allure for a well qualified/high earner to use this versus a credit card. At least with a credit card one can earn some rewards. 50% seems very optimistic as I’ve never used and in my line of business as a mortgage originator; do not see high usage of Affirm on credit reports.

I would really like input from fellow fools that have used Affirm. Why? What did you like/dislike? And would you use it again?

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Here is a third-party research report that found a higher number than Affirm’s study.

“According to respondents, 60% say they have used a Buy Now, Pay Later service. Of those, nearly half (46%) are currently making a payment or payments through one of those services.”

They have data for, Why Consumers Prefer BNPLY?

  1. Easier to make payments
  2. More flexible
  3. Lower interest rates
  4. Easy approval process
  5. No interest
  6. Credit card is maxed out (OUCH! scary I know)
  7. I have a low credit limit

Keep in mind the vast majority of the population are not affluent and well off. Consumers carry a huge amount of credit card debt and both Affirm and Upstart are providing solutions or alternatives that are extremely popular because they are a better deal for the consumer. The number one reason for an Upstart loan is cred card debt consolidation.


I consider that 50% number in the realm of lies, damned lies, and statistics. What does it mean to “use BNPL this holiday”? Who did they include in the sample? Will they be charged interest?

I’m a high earner with excellent credit and I have used Affirm on a few occasions, as well as the BNPL option offered by Amazon on some items. I did it specifically because of offers to do so at zero interest. I’ll take that all day every day. I also pay my credit cards in full every month to avoid interest charges. If I can use interest-free BNPL this holiday, then certainly I will plan to. If there will be interest, I won’t. Which 50% am I in?

The Affirm debit card is interest-free but presumably you run into trouble if your balance can no longer cover payments, and you can’t push them out like you can with credit. It seems like it could be useful for someone who has trouble controlling their spending with credit but wants the freedom to make large purchases without saving first. Will this arrangement actually help them? I’m not sure. They might just end up short of cash and needing to fall back to credit anyway. But that is a large potential market. As for me, with good credit card rewards and the hassle of manually splitting only large purchases, I personally don’t see a value in switching to this card.


I have used Affirm to make large buys such as a Purple mattress and various products from Apple. I always pay my credit card in full each month, but I figured if I can split up a large purchase over time and I’m not paying interest on it, why wouldn’t I?


I used it last year. I paid cash for a Peloton bike and when I liked the quality of the product and wanted the Tread+ and I had my husband looking over my shoulder with that “ we can’t afford it stare” I split the payments over one year for no interest and hit the Buy Now button. It made it easier to justify the back to back purchases.



I considered using AFRM for the Peloton, but wanted the credit card protections and American Express offered to let me pay over a year at zero interest. The iPhone upgrade program also lets me pay over 2 years at 0% interest, plus they give me a very convenient way to upgrade the phone. That’s what keeps me away from investing in AFRM. I don’t think people are shopping at places because they offer Affirm. That said, the fact that they are landing a lot of big names as partners keeps me interested. Even if they have no real differentiating qualities, if they’re the default option for a lot of web sites, they’ll do well.

For me, still a bit too complicated and too much uncertainty to make it into my portfolio.


All I can think of is at some point, bankruptcy lawyers will be used and it’s a win for them.

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My 2 cents on AFRM & BNPL

The company argues that one of its key competitive advantages is its risk model “built on more than a billion data points” that looks at risk at the “transaction level” by taking into account the item that a customer is purchasing. Affirm claims that it’s able to approve 20% more customers on average than its competitors—helping to facilitate more purchases for merchants—while also pricing risk “with a high degree of accuracy.” [A.I.]

Credit risk is one aspect of it. However, BNPL players are trying to gather consumer consumption data and behavioral patterns of purchases.

Presently as MasterCard and VISA work, they are only a facilitator between the credit card issuing bank and the POS originating banks. They have no skin in the game and no credit risk.

On the other hand, BNPL players will aim to have sweetheart deals with manufacturers and sellers and target potential customers from their huge database.

BUY NOW PAY LATER is one aspect of the game today. Tomorrow it can be limited-time exclusive discounts or extended warranties. So, BNPL will be much bigger than just a credit story.


Visa and Mastercard are not assuming credit risk, but gathering, analyzing, and selling data on consumer behavior is a core part of their business – BNPL players don’t offer anything new there.

The thing that bothers me here is the fact that — as the CEO points out too — in order to roll out a new product in the physical world you need time. Here you have the Affirm Debit+ that even though it has a strong demand (waitlist close to 1 million) you still can’t get it to your customers fast enough.

"So that said, you have to print these cards. And so we will get, let’s call it, several thousand out this year to our very large waitlist now. And then starting next year, we’ll try to get-- the waiting list is several hundred thousand people, close to a million, and so we’ll get as many of those as we possibly can starting next year early."

Some people might argue that having strong demand and a limited or no supply is a good thing just like last year with the PTON bike. But I prefer a strong demand with equally strong supply ability. Because if I’m willing to be a customer today it doesn’t necessarily mean that I’ll just wait x amount of time till you are ready to provide it to me especially when there’s competition.

This is not a marketing trick like Rolex does so well by artificially limiting supply to skyrocket demand and drive prices up purposefully both for new and used models. But a real issue that doesn’t guarantee that the waitlist today will be converted into paying customers tomorrow.

For example, if a million qualified customers show up at upstart’s website tomorrow morning they’ll probably be able to “get their hands on” their product very soon. Most of the sales (71%) are fully automated too.

Also, we live in a digital world, why would I need to carry a physical card with me? I stopped carrying any form of physical cash including debit/credit cards/wallet a couple of years ago. Why do I need to be limited to a physical card whereas a virtual card would do it too? Why does the company need to actually print all these cards and hence delay the rollout?