Personal Finance

Major UK bank to axe 'lifesaving' payment method as 18m Brits affected

A major high street bank, serving 18 million customers, is poised to discontinue a “lifesaving” payment option. Starting tomorrow, NatWest will cease offering Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) services.

NatWest introduced its BNPL service with much fanfare in the summer of 2022. However, it is now discontinuing the service due to low adoption rates.

The BNPL feature allowed customers to spread payments over four monthly installments without incurring interest.

Customers could manage their BNPL plans through the NatWest app. Since the announcement in March, account holders have expressed disappointment at the impending removal of the service, which has been praised as a “lifesaver” by many customers, The Sun reports.

When NatWest initially unveiled the product in March 2022, it cited a “clear demand” for BNPL and expressed its commitment to enhancing its safety and usability.

The bank aimed to assess the demand for a product that automatically placed every purchase on an installment plan without requiring customer intervention.

However, it appears that options like NatWest’s existing “installment plan” for credit card users remained more popular.

The original plan allowed users to activate it for up to five eligible transactions, while the BNPL service automatically enrolled all purchases in installment plans.

NatWest’s installment plan for credit card users allows repayment over three, six, 12, or 24 months. Additionally, customers can transfer the balance of expired 0 percent balance transfer cards to these installment plans.

With a credit card, customers typically pay off part or all of the outstanding balance each month, including interest.

Although the BNPL product was available to all 18 million existing NatWest customers, it is understood that the number of users was significantly lower.

A spokesperson for Natwest said: “We are focusing on our core lending products, helping customers spread the cost of their purchases through our credit cards, overdrafts and loans.

“This means our Buy Now, Pay Later proposition will be closing.”

Customers who have active plans have been contacted over the past week to inform them the service will be shutting down.

Their accounts will be closed once their repayment periods come to an end, so customers don’t need to do anything, but they can contact Natwest with any concerns.


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