Buy now. Pay later. Win the future.

How ‘buy now, pay later’ got hypercompetitive

Affirm once had the U.S. pay-later market mostly to itself. Klarna and Afterpay's entry changed that.

This story is part of Protocol's special report, "Buy now. Pay later. Win the future." Read more here.

Before installment plans even got the "buy now, pay later" label, Affirm was running away with the U.S. market. Then Klarna started spending hundreds of millions of dollars to expand in America, planting offices in New York City and Columbus, Ohio. Afterpay soon followed, and it's poised to become part of Square with its extensive merchant network.

Even so, American consumers use "buy now, pay later" less than shoppers in the U.K. and Australia, spelling out future opportunities for growth. Now Visa, Mastercard, Apple and others want a piece. The payoff for consumers and retailers: "Buy now, pay later" offers are hotly competitive now.

More from Buy now. Pay later. Win the future.