Top 5 “Buy Now, Pay Later” Apps in 2021

We’ve leveraged our app intelligence solutions to identify the top five “Buy Now, Pay Later” (BNPL) apps in 2021 based on downloads. We then compared these apps using our analytics tools, focusing on their download histories, ratings, top chart rankings, changelogs, integrated SDKs, and more!

Here’s what we cover (click the links below to jump to the relevant sections):

What is “Buy Now, Pay Later” (BNPL)?

“Buy Now, Pay Later” apps, helpfully abbreviated to BNPL apps, allow users to make purchases and pay them off via quick, interest-free installments. For example, if a purchase of 1,000 U.S. dollars is divided into four parts, a user would pay 25% (250 U.S. dollars) upfront and three additional installments of 25% until the purchase is paid off. BNPL apps are easy to use and their low fees make them especially handy for medium-sized purchases.

Top 5 “Buy Now, Pay Later” Apps in 2021

1. Top Buy Now Pay, Later Apps

1. Klarna | Shop now. Pay later. by Klarna Bank AB (publ)

  • Short Description: Easy shopping, easy payments.
  • Total Downloads: 10,000,000+
  • Downloads Over the Last 30 Days: 1,564,395

2. Afterpay: Buy now, pay later. Easy online shopping by Afterpay

  • Short Description: Buy online & pay later - browse the latest shopping deals in fashion & beauty.
  • Total Downloads: 1,000,000+
  • Downloads Over the Last 30 Days: 408,175

3. Affirm by Affirm, Inc

  • Short Description: Split purchases into easy monthly payments.
  • Total Downloads: 1,000,000+
  • Downloads Over the Last 30 Days: 174,721

4. Zip previously Quadpay. Buy now, pay later in four by Quadpay, Inc.

  • Short Description: Split any purchase into 4 installments. Zero interest, no hard credit check. 
  • Total Downloads: 1,000,000+
  • Downloads Over the Last 30 Days: 72,418

5. Sezzle - Buy Now, Pay Later by Sezzle

  • Short Description: Buy now & Pay Later with Sezzle Payments.
  • Total Downloads: 500,000+
  • Downloads Over the Last 30 Days: 61,469

Analysis of the Top 5 “Buy Now, Pay Later” Apps in 2021

30-Day Performance Summary (August 22, 2021 - September 22, 2021)

1. Top Buy Now Pay, Later Apps

This chart offers a quick glimpse at how the top five BNPL apps have performed over the last 30 days. It includes estimated downloads, overall growth trends, top chart rankings, the number of new ratings, top countries, the date of the most recent update, and the number of changes made to the app.

Klarna is the top dog here, registering over three times as many downloads as the next best performer, Afterpay. Klarna’s downloads are also trending upwards and strong enough that it’s currently ranked in the top 100 ‘Shopping’ apps in 17 different countries. What’s more, it’s received 15.9K new ratings over the last 30 days.

We’ll leave it to you to digest the rest of the chart’s information except to point out a couple more interesting tidbits. First, Afterpay is the only of the top five BNPL apps trending downwards. Second, and perhaps not coincidentally, it’s been updated six times in the past month, tying it with Zip for the most updates over the time period.

Historical Downloads (September 22, 2020 - September 22, 2021)

2. Historical Downloads Buy Now, Pay Later Apps — 42matters

Next, historical downloads. This graph depicts daily downloads for each of the top five BNPL apps over the last year.

Once again, Klarna’s dominance is readily apparent, clocking in at 13,646,664 total downloads from September 2020 to September 2021.

Klarna’s two biggest spikes came on June 13th and August 1st, following two major announcements. The first, on June 10th, was that Klarna raised 639 million U.S. dollars, giving it a post-money valuation of 45.6 billion U.S. dollars. The second came on June 29th, when Klarna announced a major partnership with Liberis.

Rating Insights

3. Ratings for Buy Now Pay Later Apps

This takes us to ratings. Each of the top five BNPL apps are rated above four stars on Google Play. Sezzle, Afterplay, and Affirm currently lead the pack, averaging 4.772, 4.716, and 4.693 stars, respectively. Klarna and Zip have been a little less steady, often dipping below 4.3 stars.

Top Chart Rankings

4. Top Chart Rankings BNPL apps

Moving on to top chart rankings. As it stands, each of the most popular BNPL apps ranks in the top 100 ‘Shopping’ apps in the United States.

If there’s one outlier, it’s Sezzle, which tends to hover at the lower end of the top 100. However, considering that Sezzle has the fewest downloads of the top five, that’s not actually a bad showing. Most apps would kill to rank consistently in the top 100 in their respective categories.

It should also be noted that Klarna, which is the eighth ranked ‘Shopping’ app in the United States, also charts in 17 additional countries. That’s considerably more than Afterpay (3), Affirm (2), Zip (1), and Sezzle (2).

Changelog Insights

5 Changelog Insights BNPL

The image above charts changelog updates for each BNPL app. The dots represent new version releases, updated content ratings, revised taglines, titles, or descriptions; etc. 

Unsurprisingly, with so much competition in the BNPL space, these developers have been extraordinarily diligent when it comes to updating their apps. Over the past year, Afterpay has been updated 30 times, Zip has been updated 45 times, Klarna has been updated 47 times, Sezzle has been updated 32 times, and Affirm has been updated 32 times.

Integrated SDKs

6. Integrated SDKs BNPL

Another interesting point of comparison is which SDKs these apps integrate. Afterpay currently uses the most (54), followed by Klarna (37), Sezzle (35), Zip (31), and Affirm (19).

Moreover, all five of these apps use the Google Firebase SDK, the EventBus SDK, the Firebase Cloud Messaging SDK, the gson SDK, the Lottie by Airbnb SDK, and the OkHttp SDK.

App Details

7. App Details BNPL

Finally, app details. This chart compares app metadata, as well as other app and developer details. For instance: App ID, Title, Price, Developer, Number of Apps by Developer, Number of Words in Description, and much more.

Final Thoughts

The BNPL app landscape is still quite young. Indeed, Klarna, Afterpay, Affirm, Zip, and Sezzle make up approximately 70% of the current market.

While Klarna is clearly the global torchbearer, their place leading the ceremony is by no means permanent. A company like Afterpay or Affirm could quite easily catch up, let alone an as yet unfounded start-up.

There are certainly plenty of users to go around. While just these five apps have been downloaded over 13.5 million times, it’s worth keeping in mind that retail, in general, is big business. In the United States, for instance, consumers spent 5.58 trillion U.S. dollars on retail in 2020 alone.

Moreover, it’s also worth noting that there will almost certainly be a good deal of post-COVID belt-tightening. With growing concerns over inflation and general economic instability, services such as BNPL apps have a golden opportunity to prove their mettle. That is to say, in the world of BNPL, the best may be yet to come.

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At 42matters, we provide app data, insights, analytics, and competitive intelligence via a host of useful APIs, file dumps, and the 42matters Explorer. This includes:

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To learn more about 42matters, schedule a meeting with one of our app market experts. We'll walk you through everything.

Get Started With 42matters Today!

At 42matters, we provide app insights, data, and analytics via a host of useful APIs, File Dumps, and web-based app intelligence platforms, like the 42matters Explorer, and the 42matters SDK Explorer.

These tools, which you can try free for 14-days, offer a comprehensive look at app market trends and statistics. This includes in-depth, visual insights into downloads, categories, top charts, rating and review analyses, and more. This data can be downloaded as a CSV file and leveraged however you like — in your own algorithms, analyses, products, studies, etc.

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