Afterpay’s evolution continues with launch of Money app

Afterpay

Source: Igor Golovniov/SOPA/SIPA USA.

Aussie BNPL giant Afterpay has launched its long-awaited Money by Afterpay app, introducing new services for its young, tech-savvy consumer-base.

With rumours circling and more announcements on the cards, is the fintech giant slowly morphing into a fully-fledged financial services company? Or even — dare we say it — a bank?

After months of speculation, the Money by Afterpay app is now available for download for any Afterpay customer using iOS. An Android version is expected to be released in 2022.

According to Afterpay, the app has been designed specifically with Gen Z and Millennial customers in mind.

Lee Hatton, Afterpay’s executive vice president for new platforms, said in a statement that this group is “most vocal when it comes to discussing money”.

They’re seeking tips for money management, she added, as well as more insights into their spending and an easy way to set themselves goals.

The idea behind Money by Afterpay is to “empower this audience to build their money confidence”.

The new app will offer ‘Money Stories’ offering a visual representation of spending, as well as ‘Afterpay Retro’, which allows customers to apply BNPL to purchases retrospectively.

A savings offering using Westpac’s Banking-as-a-Service will also be available, offering what Afterpay says is a ‘competitive’ variable interest rate.

An Afterpay evolution

Speaking to SmartCompany, Jason Andrew, founder of SBO Financial, notes that Afterpay’s core user base has always been Gen Z and Millennials, so it makes sense to build its new products to serve them.

This is a generation that is more about fintech solutions that traditional banks, and Afterpay may be leveraging that loyal audience to start providing more services and broadening its own offering, Andrew suggests.

He also observes that Square, the payments platform that acquired Afterpay earlier this year, has a very similar and very successful consumer-facing product in the US and the UK.

Square’s Cash app allows users to transfer money to each other and to invest in stocks or cryptocurrencies. It’s possible Money by Afterpay will also head in this direction, offering more financial services to its Aussie customers.

We’re also seeing reports of Westpac mortgages and loans being offered through the app.

If someone has been using Afterpay since they were a teenager, when they come to buy a house it stands to reason they would turn to a brand they know, Andrew notes.

Indeed Hatton herself said this launch is “only the beginning”.

The BNPL space is changing fast, with more and more competitors entering the space and unveiling new, innovative takes on the model. Afterpay is evolving to stay ahead of the competition.

That means moving into more traditional, bank-style, consumer finance capabilities.

Afterpay has “always skirted the line” as to whether it should have a credit licence or abide by other banking regulations, Andrew says.

“Over time, they will need to for sure.”

The business may not ever call itself a bank, he adds, but that seems to be the direction in which Afterpay is drifting.

“They’ll put their own spin on it — something that resonates with their audience,” Andrew says.

What that means for customers signing up and for the business itself remains to be seen.

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