By Sinchita Mitra

(Reuters) -Experian sees growing demand for its services in the booming buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) sector as it adds more clients to the unit, the world’s largest credit data firm said on Friday after a strong third quarter.

BNPL is a segment that is becoming more mainstream and Experian’s clients are demanding the company’s services to know whether an applicant is real or fraudulent, Chief Communication Officer Nadia Ridout-Jamieson told Reuters.

“The interesting thing about buy now pay later, is that more people want to know what it means for the total indebtedness of the consumer, or how is the consumer handling debts,” Jamieson said.

Jamieson said the company has added a lot of clients in the past year in its new BNPL segment.

Buy-now-pay-later services have exploded in popularity PayPal Inc recorded five times higher volumes on its BNPL platform on Black Friday 2021 compared to 2020.

Experian reported a 14% jump in its third-quarter revenue on Friday, fuelled by robust demand for its services to consumers and businesses in North America.

Demand for credit reports and scores has been rising in Experian’s main markets following the lifting of coronavirus restrictions, flexible lending criteria and low interest rates that have helped revive lending and marketing activities by clients.

The Ireland-based company benefited from U.S. consumers showing strong demand for credit in 2021, while applications for credit overall rebounded to 2019 levels, according to a survey released by the New York Federal Reserve November.

Experian said it expects its annual revenue to grow between 16% and 17%, above an earlier forecast of a 15% to 17% jump. The London-listed firm, however, narrowed its organic revenue forecast for the year, dented by weakness in its Europe, Middle East and Africa markets.

Its shares are down 1.7% in early morning trading.

The company said it expects strong growth in its fourth quarter, and that weakness in its Europe, Middle East and Africa markets would subside.

(Reporting by Sinchita Mitra in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta, Sherry Jacob-Phillips and David Evans)