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“Buy Now, Pay Later”: Should Community Financial Institutions Be Afraid Or Excited?


“Buy Now, Pay Later”: Should Community Financial Institutions Be Afraid Or Excited?

Eric Cook by Eric Cook

Chief Digital Strategist

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Full biography

Eric considers himself a “recovering banker” of 15 years, who for the past eleven years has focused his efforts as a digital strategist, helping his clients (mostly community banks) better understand and leverage the power of the Internet as a strategic business tool. An award-winning web designer with WSI, the world’s largest digital agency network, Eric is a two-time contributing author to the best-selling book Digital Minds – 12 Things Every Business Needs to Know About Digital Marketing. Consistently rated in the top five digital marketing books on Amazon, the book is in its second edition and available in three languages.

A sought-after, nationally-recognized speaker in the financial services industry, Eric is a member of the National Speakers Association and loves sharing his knowledge to help educate and inspire others. He is the co-creator of a weekly webinar show called Free Webinar Wednesdays, founder of the Banker Education Series webinar series, and serves as a faculty member at several banking schools around the country where he teaches bankers about digital strategy, online marketing and social media. He is a WSI Certified LinkedIn Professional and holds undergraduate degrees in business administration and psychology. While working full-time as a community banker, Eric earned his MBA and completed the three-year Graduate School of Banking program in Madison, WI in 2003.

Professionally, Eric helps his clients in all areas of digital marketing, which includes mobile-responsive web development, search engine marketing and optimization, social media strategies, e-mail communication, and “big-picture” digital strategic planning. He’s the co-founder of, a service created to help businesses understand their risk when it comes to operating in today’s digital world. When he’s not helping his clients succeed online, he can typically be found on one of his many bicycles training for his next mountain bike/triathlon race or spending time with his wife and two (very spoiled) golden retrievers.



Interested in exploring the nuances of BNPL and what it means for your institution? We hosted an interactive and informative online panel discussion webinar on Tuesday, September 28, 2021. To access the recording, scroll down for details. 

“Buy now, pay later” (BNPL). For many consumers, it sounds like a dream. But for those in banking, it might sound like a nightmare. Buy now, pay later services, like Affirm, Klarna, and AfterPay (now owned by Square), have grown in popularity. Big names like Amazon, Walmart, PayPal, Square, and Apple are even offering more flexible payment options for their customers. 

Truth be told, BNPL has been around for a long time (in the form of layaway, installment payments, and point-of-sale financing (POSF)). It started as an option available at checkout. Now, it’s influencing consumers earlier in their purchasing journey when choosing products and providers.

Partnerships Are Being Formed

Amazon partnered with Affirm, and PayPal announced they’ll stop charging late fees on BNPL payments. And Apple is developing its own BNPL offering. According to Forbes, BNPL purchases jumped up nearly $74 billion dollars between 2020 and 2021. All of which could put pressure on traditional bank financing services. 

BNPL might feel, at first, like a logistical nightmare for financial institutions. But, as consumers continue to seek the flexibility of BNPL purchases, they will quickly expect similar options for their banking services. Community financial institutions (banks and credit unions) everywhere are fighting to draw in consumers in their corner of the market. BNPL can be a big value-add for community FIs. And, it can be implemented easier (and be less expensive) than you might think!

How Has BNPL Affected Banks and Credit Unions?

  • BNPL has been dominated by fintech firms, grabbing lending business from traditional banks and credit unions
  • $8 to $10 billion in annual revenue has been diverted away from banks
  • 81% of millennials prefer digital fintech financing over traditional credit and bank loans
  • Square’s recent acquisition of AfterPay (a larger BNPL provider) is expected to disrupt traditional lending even further
  • Amazon has now partnered with Affirm, which will continue to change consumers behavior even more

The fact is, banks and credit unions will struggle if they don’t react swiftly to this financial disruptor. It is our stance that banks and credit unions should not be left on the sidelines. 

Listen To Our Webinar

If you want to be ahead of the curve of this BNPL “disruption" and were not able to attend the webinar live, you can check out the recording by clicking the big green button below. Below are some of the key items we discussed:

  • How BNPL is different from traditional personal lending options
  • BNPL options for community financial institutions
  • How community-focused financial institutions (banks and credit unions) can uniquely position themselves with BNPL options for customers/members 
  • Ways to implement BNPL payment options at the small business/merchant point of sale


Why is WSI Talking about BNPL?

Some of you may be reading this and saying to yourself, “WSI Digital’s focus is building responsive bank websites, digital marketing, online advertising, SEO, social media, etc. What’s that got to do with BNPL?” 

At the end of the day, my goal is to ensure our clients are “in the know” on all things digital that have an impact on the bottom line - and that includes BNPL. Plus, when BNPL does get integrated into a financial institution’s offering, they’ll need to get the word out to their consumers and educate them on their options. And that communication outreach is what we do best! So, it all ties together. 

And that’s why I’m so excited for the panel discussion with two experts in the banking and BNPL space, Mark Anderson and Joe Sullivan.  

Mark is the Senior Vice President of HUB International and is also an exclusive agent for a new BNPL service called Quilo. Unlike many of the other providers mentioned previously, Quilo specifically works with community-focused financial institution space.

Joe is the President and CEO of Market Insights and is a fellow thought-leader in the financial space. Joe’s presentation at the 2021 Michigan Bankers Association convention sparked this specific conversation about BNPL for banks and credit unions - and he’s got some great thoughts on the topic to share. 

The three of us answered questions about BNPL. 

  • What you need to know about buy now, pay later on a broad scale 
  • Strategic shifts happening in the financial industry
  • Specifics about Quilo and how the service works

By the end of our discussion, you will be equipped to decide if BNPL should be on your bank or credit union’s strategic radar screen. 

Check out the recording of our panel discussion from Tuesday, September 28, 2021, RIGHT HERE!


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