A visit to the dentist is about to become more affordable for average Australians. Last week, payment financier Afterpay has started offering the ‘buy now, pay later’ flexible payments scheme to the first batch of 52 dental practices throughout the country through Smiles Inclusive, which operates the Totally Smiles brands. The move is expected to trigger a jump in demand, particularly from Millennial customers who have embraced the Afterpay model in the retail sector with gusto. In perspective, more than 2.3 million Australians used the Afterpay service last year, where they buy the goods upfront and then use regular payment instalments to subsequently pay the full price.
It was part of a new approach to the $10 billion dental industry by the firm as it up-ends traditional models where customers had to fit in with an inflexible approach by many traditional dentists.
The move has the potential to disrupt the 65% of Australians that don’t go to the dentist regularly. Research has showed that many younger customers were holding off from regular visits and it was up to dental practices to make it much easier for them.
It is expected to be in high demand for bills totalling $400 – $600, especially for cosmetic dentistry, with the Millennials fixated on social media and good grooming. It is expected that, instead of paying the whole bill upfront, customers will pay 4 equal instalments over a period of a month, making it more affordable to many cash-poor young people.
Afterpay had revolutionised the way customers thought about their spending patterns and it was logical to expand into a service like dentistry, which historically had been very rigid in its payment options and service delivery.
It wouldn’t be long before other medical professions take up the Afterpay model and if it happens, we’d see more previously under-serviced part of the population becoming more active in looking after their health, a boon for the health services sector.
By Lee Xie (Senior Project Manager)
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