By Nikhil Nainan
(Reuters) – Browsing online during lockdown, Jessica Friend spotted a pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses she liked, but the price tag made the 30-year-old Ohio resident think twice.
What persuaded her to click ‘buy’, Friend said, was the short-term credit offered by Afterpay, which split the $260 payment into four interest-free instalments.
Afterpay is among a handful of alternative credit firms which offer small loans, mostly to online shoppers, and make their money by charging merchants a 4%-6% commission.
These buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) firms have benefited from a shift to online shopping during the coronavirus crisis in countries including the United States, where state aid has also boosted retail sales.
“I’m more inclined to use them because they make it easier to afford to get the things I want all at once … and when I want to splurge on something,” Friend said of the loans.
Some investors are