Black Week: Bargain hunting can become a debt trap

Status: 11/24/2021 1:09 p.m.

Black Week shopping can result in dangerous debt. Popular payment providers such as Klarna or PayPal offer installment or credit purchase – but often for less attractive conditions.

One tap of the finger and the new t-shirt is bought. Pay later – if you can. “Buy now, pay later” is the name of the principle. Right now, shortly before “Black Friday” and with a view to Christmas in a few weeks, there is a lot of shopping going on again. For a few years now, this has been happening more and more online.

According to the Federal Association of E-Commerce and Mail Order, gross sales with goods in e-commerce were 46.9 billion euros in 2015, but last year it was 83.3 billion euros. Paying is more and more common via Klarna, PayPal, Ratepay, Unzer or Afterpay – so-called “Buy now, pay later” providers.

Soon used by a billion people

For Andreas Hackethal, Professor of Finance at the House of Finance at the Goethe University in Frankfurt, one thing is clear: The payment service providers basically award a loan in the classic way: “What is special and new about it is that in an e-commerce world it becomes a whole simple experience, “says the financial expert who heads the” Household Finance “department at the Leibniz Institute SAFE.

According to a forecast by the market research company Juniper Research, around 340 million people worldwide will use “Buy now, pay later” payment systems this year; by 2026 it will be 1.5 billion. Sales are expected to rise from $ 226 billion to $ 995 billion over the same period increase per year.

Providers charge high interest rates

Nicole B. (name changed by the editorial team) from the vicinity of Frankfurt also contributed to the success. She bought a lot and often on credit through the payment service providers. She wrote down exactly when which installment was due. But at some point she could no longer pay.

Due to the corona pandemic, she ended up on short-time work and lost her part-time job in gastronomy. The rates continued anyway. Alone with one of the best-known financial service providers, Klarna, debts in the four-digit range accumulated – even though Nicole B. only bought small things: “They build up like a house of cards, one bill after the other. And at some point, if now For example, there is short-time work or they lose their job, it doesn’t even have to be Corona. A card is pulled out and everything collapses. ”

Small purchases become a big problem

Her way led her to debt counselor Matthias Klusmann in Frankfurt. Her case is now closed. Around every fifth person who seeks help in Klusmann’s office now also owes one of the “Buy now, pay later” providers.

About two years ago, this topic was not so present for him. He knows that a lot of small purchases can turn into a big problem in the end: “If I’m clammy, then of course I like to pay in installments without paying attention to the fact that sometimes twelve or thirteen percent interest is charged in one In a world in which interest rates have been abolished, it just laps together. “.

Bank loans are often cheaper

In addition, there are dunning fees and collection costs. The supposedly cheap purchase, for example during “Black Week”, is becoming more and more expensive. In addition, many credit institutions offer consumer loans on terms that are often significantly cheaper. Klusmann describes the business model of financial service providers as “a very successful, lucrative and therefore also expansive” one.

In the past year alone Klarna made a turnover of 1.1 billion dollars. The most important market for the Swedish financial services provider is Germany. Probably not least because of this, the company is currently beating the drum for the new edition of the app, which works in such a way that you can pay with it in every shop – even if this is not an official Klarna partner.

When asked, Klarna denies luring people into the debt trap. All customers are checked for their creditworthiness, “so that we only grant loans to those who can afford the repayment,” says Klarna.

Every third US user has missed a payment term

Nevertheless, many users of the online payment service providers are in debt. Initial studies by the financial company Credit Karma show that one in three “Buy now, pay later” users in the USA has missed their payment terms at one point or another. This has happened to one in ten people in England. In Germany, the financial supervisory authority BaFin Klarna and Co. can control. But so far only a few tips can be found on the website of the authority, no warning.

Nicole B. at least wants more clarification. In the meantime she has learned something new and only buys things that she can afford and pay for immediately.

More on this topic in the ARD magazine plusminus this evening at 10:50 p.m. in the first.

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