Affirm offers ‘buy now, pay later’ loans at Walmart self-checkouts

By Siddharth Cavale

(Reuters) -Affirm Holdings is offering its “buy now, pay later” loans for the first time at self-checkout kiosks at more than 4,500 Walmart U.S. stores, the lender said on Tuesday, sending its shares up as much as 16.1%.

Buyers of at least $144 of products at Walmart, except groceries, can divide payments over three to 24 months through Affirm, a spokesperson said. Financing is limited to $4,000.

After scanning purchases at Walmart’s self-checkout kiosks, shoppers need to log onto Affirm’s app or website and enter details including the last four digits of their social security number. Approved shoppers will receive a barcode to finalize payment, he added.

Affirm has been available with employee assistance since 2019 at 4,000 Walmart Supercenters and the retailer’s U.S. website. Walmart ended its layaway program in 2020 during the pandemic. It offers buy now, pay later (BNPL) services in Canada through Affirm rival Klarna.

Affirm shares rose 14.4% Tuesday afternoon, bringing this year’s gain to about 350%.

Shoppers are increasingly delaying payments as U.S. credit card balances hit record highs and defaults rise. Buy now, pay later (BNPL) services account for 5% of e-commerce payments globally and are forecast to rise to 6% by 2026, data from financial services tech firm FIS showed.

The number of customers opting for BNPL soared to 42.5% on Cyber Monday from a year ago, with shopping worth $940 million going through this mode of payment, Adobe Analytics data showed.

Affirm’s move shows the importance of in-store shopping as U.S. holiday sales growth is expected to slow in November and December, the National Retail Federation estimated.

‘Super Saturday,’ the final Saturday before Christmas, has become more crucial for retailers as a growing number of shoppers wait until the last minute to take advantage of deals.

Affirm partnered with e-commerce giant on Black Friday, the start of the holiday shopping season, offering payment options at checkout.

(Reporting by Siddharth Cavale in New York and Juveria Tabassum in Bengaluru; Editing by Tasim Zahid and Richard Chang)