Apple Pay Later is facing some “significant” setbacks that could delay its launch until next year, according to a report from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman. The feature is Apple’s version of a buy now, pay later (BNPL) service, letting you make a payment through Apple Pay and then pay it back in four installments without interest.
Apple said its Pay Later feature would arrive with iOS 16 when it first announced the program at WWDC in June. But now that iOS 16 is out, Apple Pay Later hasn’t made an appearance, and the fine print on Apple’s iOS 16 page vaguely says it’s “coming in a future update.” As Gurman points out, Apple Pay Later is the only unreleased iOS 16 feature on the page that doesn’t include a timeframe for when we might expect its rollout. Other features, like key sharing and no-setup Siri shortcuts, are listed as “coming later this year.”
Gurman believes that “Apple isn’t completely certain when Apple Pay Later will be ready for launch,” and predicts that we may not even see it until the release of iOS 16.4 in the spring of 2023. “I’m hearing there have been fairly significant technical and engineering challenges in rolling out the service, leading to the delays,” Gurman adds.
It’s not clear what these challenges are, but its rollout means Apple will have to take on new financial responsibilities. In June, reports from Bloomberg and CNBC indicated that the company’s subsidiary, Apple Financing LLC, will handle the lending for Apple Pay Later while remaining separate from Apple’s main business. Apple currently partners with Goldman Sachs to perform credit checks and lending for Apple Card, the company’s Mastercard-based credit card, but it’s bringing these services in-house for Apple Pay Later.
Government regulators are starting to pay closer attention to BNPL services, such as Klarna, Affirm, and Afterpay, as they could potentially pose a risk to customers. Research indicates that BNPL customers struggle to make their payments and are more likely to overdraft when compared to people who don’t use the service. Once Apple Pay Later’s rolled out, it has the potential to reach even more users than other BNPL services, as the feature will be built straight into the iPhone.