Talkwalker study: embracing digital disruption to the finance and payments ecosystem

Today’s payments market sees cash rendered redundant, as a third player cements its place at the register: buy now pay later. A Talkwaker study has found ways brands can foster customer loyalty in the face of these new contenders.

Consumer intelligence platform Talkwalker has analysed Australian social media trends and conversations throughout 2022 to gain insight into the impact new players are having on the sector.

Embracing digital disruption to the finance and payments ecosystem

BNPL has made itself at home in Australian wallets over the past few years – particularly with younger generations.

Its uptake was greatly accelerated during the pandemic when online shopping was often the only means to purchase anything and a dizzying array of providers were on offer at every digital check out.

This huge digital disruption has seen the emergence of many players, with a new BNPL provider appearing to enter the marketplace each week.

Australia’s love affair with BNPL leaves pundits wondering how long the honeymoon period with glossy, ostensibly guilt-free credit will last.

Importantly, many are also wondering what the BNPL juggernaut means for the traditional titans of Australia’s personal finance industry – banks and credit cards.

Tapping into a consumer-first mentality

After analysing Australian social media conversations around all three topics, Talkwalker found there wasn’t a great deal of daylight between them. While there were slightly more BNPL conversations during the period, the split was relatively even.

The sentiment of the discussions surrounding each topic differed drastically, though – the highest level of negative sentiment was reserved for credit cards.

BNPL users were the most positive of the three, despite an overall net negative sentiment. While the big four banks recorded the lowest share of overtly negative mentions, a lack of positive mentions left them with a net sentiment score of -56.49%.

“When looking at how sentiments surrounding BNPL have changed over time, it’s clear that the conversations were largely positive except for two periods in the quarter – the first occurring in late January, the second at the end of March,” said Cara Buscaglia, Talkwaker’s chief innovation and insights officer.

“The second dip in sentiment had a notably controversial catalyst – on March 30, a new BNPL service launched allowing Australians to split the cost of groceries and petrol over four payments. Social media erupted following the news, marking the offering as a line in the sand for the new digital consumer.

“While there are occasional conversations about the financial responsibility of using BNPL for non-essential items in the world of online fashion and retail, there is a deep and pronounced distrust for providers who offer the service for necessities like food, shelter, and petrol,” Buscaglia added.

The players dominating the conversation

Afterpay dominates the conversation in the space, with almost 80% of articles and posts mentioning the brand.

Despite the negativity surrounding the sector thanks to the two new services for essential items, the category leader, Afterpay, still has a net positive sentiment score.

In the same way ‘Google’ became a verb to describe when we search for something online, Afterpay appears to be on the threshold of crossing the lexicon and becoming the de facto term for buying something now, and paying for it later.

Data from digital intelligence firm Similarweb, shows three quarters of all Australian web traffic to BNPL sites goes to Afterpay.

Social media conversations around credit cards were negative throughout the quarter except for a short-lived peak into neutral territory in February.

Negative sentiments on credit cards persisted through the quarter, with the sector’s sentiment dragged down even further by news of scammers targeting Australians in a bid to steal their credit card details.

“With proactive, consumer-first communications through their owned digital channels – whether that’s their social media accounts, email lists, or even a dedicated landing page on their websites – providers could get ahead of any negative customer impact by offering tips on how to identify these scams and increase customer service support ahead of time.”

This is just one example of how customer sentiment data can be used to build better customer relationships – particularly for industries who have traditionally struggled with building customer loyalty.” said Buscaglia.

Tension at the heart of crypto

The first thing to appreciate when looking into cryptocurrency conversations on social media is the scale of the discussion.

In the first quarter of this year, there were almost nine-times as many posts and discussions around crypto than there was for the BNPL, banks and credit cards combined.

Topics covered the entire spectrum from new meme-currency launches, price updates and cyber attacks on exchanges.

“While the sentiment trend is almost as volatile as cryptocurrency’s price fluctuations, the overall outlook is still positive. Crypto recorded the most positive and the least overtly negative conversations – despite the recent price crash. Regardless of volatility, today’s digital consumer sees massive potential in cryptocurrency’s ability to level the playing field, return trust and transparency to finance, and provide financial freedom to a new generation,” said Buscaglia.


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