Buy now pay later (BNPL) statistics

Here's what you need to know about the rise of buy now pay later services in the UK.

Buy now pay later (BNPL) is currently the fastest-growing online payment method in the UK, with a growth rate double that of bank transfers and more than triple that of digital wallets. Buy now pay later is a service that allows consumers to shop online and place and receive orders while paying for them later.

We carried out some research to see if buy now pay later providers are disrupting the credit card industry and how we pay for products.

Quick overview

  • As of 2022, around 360 million people globally and more than 17 million consumers in the UK have used BNPL services.
  • In the first half of 2022, BNPL apps have reached almost 10 million downloads on Google Play and the App Store.
  • In September 2022, Klarna had 194,388 downloads in the UK.
  • There has been a 59% increase in the number of retailers working with Klarna in 2022.
  • In 2022, credit cards (26%) were the most popular form of borrowing used to pay off BNPL purchases.
  • The UK government has plans to regulate the BNPL industry from 2023 onwards.
  • In 2021, 12% of Brits used BNPL services.
  • In 2021, the market share of BNPL in domestic e-commerce payments in Sweden was 25%.
  • It is forecasted that between 2022 and 2026, the global BNPL market will grow by $41.83 billion.
  • In the first half of 2022, BNPL apps have reached almost 10 million downloads on the Google Play store and Apple’s App Store.

    In the UK, Klarna is the most popular BNPL company. In September 2022, the app was downloaded 194,388 times in the UK, and in 2021, its services were used by 150 million customers worldwide.

    Year Klarna downloads in the UK
    Jan 2019 32,084
    Feb 2019 31,188
    Mar 2019 33,815
    Apr 2019 35,027
    May 2019 46,215
    Jun 2019 57,551
    Jul 2019 65,224
    Aug 2019 64,040
    Sep 2019 68,661
    Oct 2019 110,897
    Nov 2019 199,162
    Dec 2019 227,892
    Jan 2020 166,395
    Feb 2020 116,087
    Mar 2020 98,429
    Apr 2020 98,915
    May 2020 112,916
    Jun 2020 137,743
    Jul 2020 153,207
    Aug 2020 155,659
    Sep 2020 145,869
    Oct 2020 149,948
    Nov 2020 191,576
    Dec 2020 199,715
    Jan 2021 149,738
    Feb 2021 129,902
    Mar 2021 159,174
    Apr 2021 150,622
    May 2021 156,678
    Jun 2021 183,966
    Jul 2021 180,580
    Aug 2021 192,235
    Sep 2021 167,887
    Oct 2021 184,867
    Nov 2021 328,068
    Dec 2021 465,096
    Jan 2022 207,103
    Feb 2022 171,994
    Mar 2022 182,099
    Apr 2022 233,237
    May 2022 250,276
    Jun 2022 248,424
    Jul 2022 212,174
    Aug 2022 204,917
    Sep 2022 194,388

    Other than Klarna, there are many other UK BNPL platforms that are growing in popularity. Clearpay is the second most popular BNPL platform, having been used by 25% of BNPL customers in 2021, up from 16% in 2020. These are the 2 most popular BNPL apps, with almost two-thirds (61%) of all BNPL users having bought an item with either one of these platforms.

    Openpay (8%), Laybuy (7%), Zilch (7%), Payl8r (4%) and Zip (6%) are other popular buy now pay later platforms, all except for Payl8r saw an increase in their customers in 2021 compared to 2020.

    BNPL Platform 2020 2021
    Clearpay 16% 25%
    Klarna 24% 36%
    Laybuy 5% 7%
    Openpay 6% 8%
    Payl8r 5% 4%
    PayPal Credit 73% 65%
    Zilch 3% 7%
    Zip 4% 6%

    What generation in the UK uses BNPL the most?

    According to our research, younger generations are far more likely to use buy now pay later services. The generation using BNPL the most is millennials (1981-1996), with 54% using this online payment method. Generation Z is also following this same trend, with 50% saying they use buy now pay later. It’s no surprise that younger generations can’t seem to get enough of BNPL. Klarna, Clearpay and Laybuy are all highly active on social media, marketing themselves to millennials and generation Z through organic and targeted ads to great effect.

    Older generations are also using buy now pay later methods, but not to the same extent. For example, only 23% of baby boomers and 12% of the silent generation use these services.

    Generation Proportion using BNPL
    Generation Z (1996+) 50%
    Millennials (1981-1996) 54%
    Generation X (1965-1980) 37%
    Baby boomers (1946-1964) 23%
    Silent generation (1928-1945) 12%

    Young shoppers are likely to pay off their BNPL purchases through added borrowing. Over half (51%) of those aged between 18 and 34 years, 39% of 35- to 54-year-olds and 24% of those aged 55 and above have borrowed money to pay off a BNPL debt.

    The most popular way BNPL consumers pay off their BNPL purchases is through the money in their current account (52%). Roounding out the top 5 ways to pay off a buy now pay later purchase is by using a credit card (26%), using their savings (23%) and using a bank overdraft (9%).

    Just under 1 in 10 (7%) of BNPL consumers have borrowed money from friends or family, 6% have taken out a personal loan, 1 in 20 (5%) have turned to a payday loan and 3% have used a guarantor loan to pay off a purchase.

    Type of borrowing to pay off BNPL purchase Percentage
    Money from their current account 52%
    Credit card 26%
    Savings 23%
    Bank overdraft 9%
    Borrowed from friends/family 7%
    Personal loan 6%
    Payday loan 5%
    Guarantor loan 3%
    Other 8%

    What type of products do people in the UK purchase through BNPL?

    One-third (33%) of BNPL customers have used the service to purchase casual wear clothing. With many online fashion brands such as ASOS, boohoo and SHEIN accepting BNPL services, this is a popular way to afford clothing, especially for the younger generations. After casual wear, eating out is not far behind with 31% of consumers using BNPL to pay for trips to restaurants. These are followed by beauty products, with one-quarter (26%) of consumers paying for these using BNPL services.

    Technology purchases (22%), travel (19%) and home improvements (19%) follow. Perhaps worryingly, 14% of consumers use BNPL to pay for their rent.

    Product Category Percentage
    Casual wear 33%
    Eating out 31%
    Beauty products 26%
    Other clothes 23%
    Tech 22%
    Travel 19%
    Home improvements 19%
    Holidays 19%
    Entertainment 19%
    Utilities 18%
    Sportswear 17%
    Work clothes 16%
    Rent 14%
    Designer clothes 14%
    School uniform 11%

    Why do shoppers use buy now pay later services?

    We also analysed the main 6 reasons why shoppers are using buy now pay later services. Our data shows that the main reason that people are using buy now pay later is because of its ease and convenience (44%). The ability to spread costs over time is the next most popular reason (41%), followed by interest-free payments (39%) and the ability to pay for purchases that individuals couldn’t afford otherwise (30%).

    Why do shoppers use BNPL services Percentage
    They're easy and convenient 44%
    I can spread costs over a longer period of time 31%
    To access interest-free payments 39%
    To pay for purchases I couldn't otherwise afford 30%
    To try on items that are delivered to me before I am charged for them 28%
    I don’t want to use or take out a credit card right now 27%

    Criticisms of buy now pay later

    The offer of interest-free instalments and no hidden fees allows shoppers more flexibility but also can lessen their perceived risk of debt and lead to overspending and ensuing problems. This has drawn criticism for the BNPL industry from the media and certain charities.

    Finder research found that 41% of those who are increasingly using BNPL cited the ability to spread the cost of payment over time as a key factor, while 30% claimed to use it to pay for purchases they can’t otherwise afford.

    The FCA is not currently regulating BNPL services (beyond those offering finance) but has said that consumer credit is 1 of 5 priorities for its Business Plan in 2020-21, so it is likely to be monitoring what happens in this area.

    For all media enquiries, please contact

    Matt Mckenna
    UK communications manager
    T: +44 20 8191 8806

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