Microsoft's Buy Now, Pay Later integration in Edge is highly controversial

Microsoft announced a new addition to the company’s Microsoft Edge web browser in mid-November. Available only in Insider Builds of Edge at the time, the feature was rolled out in Edge 96 Stable recently.

Microsoft decided to add support for a Buy Now, Pay Later service, provided by ZIP, into Edge. Services such as Zip or Afterpay offer so-called Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) services. Shoppers may use them to get items that they buy right away and pay for these items in installments over time.

Microsoft partnered with Zip and Edge users may use the Zip service when they make purchases between $35 and $1000 in the browser, even if the shopping site does not support it.

Edge’s integrated BNPL is limited to paying back the owed money in 4 installments over 6 weeks.

Microsoft notes that the integration improves the application process.

Applying BNPL could take time, you need to sign in with zip every single time. With BNPL in Edge, you can simply link your Microsoft account with your zip account with one click and then bypass sign in from Zip side. It can expedite the application process for you.

What Microsoft fails to reveal in the announcement is that Zip is only available in certain regions. According to the homepage, Zip is available in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Mexico.

How Buy Now, Pay Later services work

Buy Now, Pay Later services sound like useful services at first. You can use them to get an item or service immediately, but don’t need to pay the full amount right away. If you are short on cash at the moment, but need something immediately, they may be the only option to do so short of selling your soul to a money lender.

There are certain downsides to using these services. Some may charge fees whenever you may payments and others may charge a monthly accounting fee. Late payment charges come into play when customers miss payments, and these may be reported and that may affect the credit line.

Reception has been bad

Microsoft’s own blog post on the Insider blog received more than 110 comments at the time of writing. The majority of comments are negative towards the feature. Some see it as unnecessary bloat that is added to the browser, others mention that Microsoft did not mention the $4 processing fee or how it benefits from the integration.

Here are a few examples:

This should be an extension at best. It is not a feature I’m looking for in any browser. Microsoft is a multi-billion dollar company. I doubt whatever Zip is paying you is worth the negative press this will generate.  (user bdpatton)

Also made an account just to reply. I love the new Edge and I’ve been using it since it came out. Seriously, don’t support this. No one needs this. BNPL is just an enabler for people who have a problem. No one should finance online purchases that small. This kind of functionality should definitely, 100%, not be in any browser ever. Please don’t add to the debt problems people already have. (user amsprich)

Looks like you neglected to mention the $4 flat fee in the article?

On a $35 purchase, that’s 11% of the purchase cost spread over one month. Annualized, that’s an astounding 250% APY. Even the most predatory credit cards top out at around 40% APY.

All you’ve done is just baked predatory loans into your browser. Honestly, you should be ashamed. (user JemmaScout)

Articles, such as Microsoft Edge’s new ‘Buy now, pay later’ feature is the definition of bloatware on XDA Developers, or Paul Thurott’s Microsoft Continues to Bog Down Edge with Unnecessary Bloat, criticize the integration of the feature.

XDA Developers point out that Zip is already available as an app and a Chrome browser extension, and that Buy Now, Pay Later schemes are designed to get people tp make more purchases than they would otherwise.

Closing Words

Which features should browsers provide? Most browser makers add features to their browsers that could have been provided as extensions, many do so to distinguish the own browser from others. Some Edge users will find the new functionality useful, others will see it as bloat or even as a reason to switch to another browser.

Now You: what is your take on the integration?

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