Wonga UK has obtained full authorisation from the Financial Conduct Authority after trialling 90-day loans late last year. The company decided to trial the longer-term loans after listening to feedback from its customers as well as various government figures, giving its customers enhanced flexibility and more time to repay their loans. Wonga UK chairman called the FCA’s decision a “milestone” and spoke of the company’s “progress against our commitment to deliver change”. The firm was named as the UK’s second-most improved brand in a YouGov poll.
The company now has a presence in various countries and purchased the German payments firm BillPay in 2013. At the time, the company said the acquisition “significantly accelerates our development into a broad-based, digital finance group”. The service allows people to fund items bought online via a range of payment methods. BillPay was originally launched in 2009. Wonga’s PayLater service enables customers to spread the cost of products and services over three months. The company said acquiring BillPay would allow it to expand PayLater, adding that it would “consolidate our position as a pioneer in the financial revolution”, giving customers a series of robust payment and credit solutions.
Wonga has a presence in countries including Canada, Poland, South Africa and several EU countries. Wonga Spain was born after the group acquired the Spanish lender Credito Pocket. Wonga targets customers requiring help with finances after facing unexpected expenses and is of particular appeal to those that have been turned down elsewhere. They offer an alternative to the drawn-out and complex applications demanded by other lenders and enable customers to obtain money at short-notice, even when they are on the move. Its lending criteria has become more robust over recent years and has been tweaked to ensure money is only lent to those that can afford to repay comfortably.
The company’s website concedes that it has “made mistakes along the way” since its inception in 2007. It says it has worked hard to improve its work and designed a “new decision engine” to ensure it’s only lending to those that can stick to agreements. The company has regularly emphasised its “flexibility and transparency”, with all applicants undergoing credit checks and needing to fulfil stringent lending criteria.
BillPay offers payment and credit services to businesses and customers in the Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria and Germany. It is a partner to a host of big-name merchants from a wide range of sectors. It can count a number of electronics, furniture, fashion and travel retailers amongst its partners. PayLater enables customers to buy products and services online, spreading the cost over three months. Retailers don’t need to worry about defaults and consumers are able to access the products and services they need immediately. Wonga remains keen to stress that it doesn’t lend to anyone regardless of their situation and acknowledges that obtaining credit is not the right answer to every financial challenge. Its website also states that its customers never need to worry about hidden charges.