Payday lender Wonga records £65m loss amid overhaul


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PA

Wonga – Britain’s biggest payday lender – posted pre-tax losses of nearly £65m in 2016, but claims its business has been “transformed”.

The short-term lender had previously admitted it had “lost its way” under its old management and had been accused of targeting the vulnerable.

It said it had moved towards more flexible loan products and more responsible lending.

It said it expected to return to profit in 2017.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the City regulator, has toughened rules across the payday lending sector.

In the UK, Wonga was ordered to pay £2.6m to 45,000 customers three years ago after it sent threatening letters from non-existent law firms. The same years it had to pay compensation to almost 200,000 borrowers who overpaid due to “system errors”.

The group revealed in its latest set of results that provisions for compensation to customers in the UK and South Africa stood at £26.9m at the end of last year.

The lender, which operates in the UK, South Africa, Poland and Spain, saw its losses shrink from £80m in 2015 to £65m in 2016. It said there was a demand for its services, which now included longer-term, more flexible loans, that did not require repayment on payday.

“In the UK alone we believe there are 13 million people who are cash and credit constrained but find it difficult to access credit when they need it. This difficulty is shared by millions of consumers in our other markets and we are focused on serving these people in a responsible and transparent way,” said Tara Kneafsey, chief executive of the Wonga Group.



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