The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says deferred payment services, known...

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says deferred payment services, known by the acronym BNPL, could mean greater debt for consumers. Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto/mareesw

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has opened an inquiry into the fast-growing "buy now, pay later" services from PayPal, Affirm and other payment apps. The bureau says the deferred payment services, known by their acronym BNPL, could mean consumers incur more debt than anticipated after they download "the easy-to-use apps or install the web browser plugins." Unlike old-fashioned layaway plans used to purchase one large item, buy now, pay later is used for an array of discretionary everyday items, and its ease of use means consumers often spend more without realizing how much they will owe. The bureau says last month’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping weekend saw a "massive growth in BNPL."

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