Deferred payment for “small” purchases: Shop now, pay later


The digital revolution is changing how our finances are conducted and payment systems in particular. For instance, a proliferation of fintech companies are offering deferred payment solutions for small transactions. 

You might be thinking, and quite rightly, that deferred payments are nothing new. However, until recently we associated such financing with big-ticket items, such as cars, studies and home renovations, and perhaps other lower-cost but durable goods, such as household appliances.

This is all changing thanks to the entry of fintech firms into the financial market, offering payment deferment services for smaller, more everyday purchases, such as clothing, footwear and cosmetics.

These are recent arrivals to Spain, but you may have already seen online retailers offering deferred payment services and the idea is to provide these at physical stores in the immediate future. Their characteristics include:

  • The customer typically pays no interest, which is borne by the retailer. That doesn’t mean there’s no need to find out the details of the transaction and the obligations you will be assuming.
  • You can defer payment or spread the cost over several instalments.
  • For retailers, it means offering customers a new and simple means of payment which can help boost their sales.
  • You will often need to be a member of the retailer’s loyalty programme to defer your payments, meaning they will have your data and will be able to send you personalised promotions.
  • The systems are based on apps that customers can use to manage their outstanding payments.

As a customer, this is a new channel of financing (whether provided by traditional banks or otherwise) that can help you to organise your finances and purchase all you need without overdrawing your account and incurring the associated fees.

“Buy now, pay later” services are very alluring, but they can encourage impulse buying. A sensible approach is therefore required to avoid getting into too much debt. Those small debts can build up, and sooner or later you will have to pay them off.


Remember, Law 11/2016 on consumer credit agreements does not apply to financing for amounts of less than €200, and not all regulated financing intermediaries are supervised by the Banco de España.

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