If there’s one name that synonymous with short-term and ‘payday’ loans, it’s Wonga. Founded in 2006 with the expressed notion of offering ‘short-term, high-cost credit’, Wonga was seen as a quick fix provider for those who desperately needed small loans. However, their reputation for charging very high interest rates put them under increasing scrutiny, and eventually led to a full-scale investigation by the Office of Fair Trading and the FCA.
Wonga went through a tough time, but responded to criticism over its collection methods and its eye-wateringly high interest rates. The company cleaned house, and after writing off over £220million of debts, relaunched as a much more responsible lender.
Today, Wonga is still one of the UK’s largest short-term loan providers, despite the stricter criteria and price caps set in place by the regulators.
In April 2017, Wonga was the victim of a data breach that could have affected up to 245,000 customers in the UK. While all large financial institutions are continuously under cyber attack from hackers, Wonga’s hack was particularly damaging, as it included details of customers’ bank cards which were used as part of the log-in procedure.
More robust firewalls have been put in place, but if you do take out a Wonga loan it is important to be very careful that your security passwords are kept safe, and are difficult to predict (so no pet’s names or ‘Password123’ style passwords!).
Wonga 2.0 – the revised lender
Modern Wonga is a very different animal from the one that went before, and today offers structured loans that are more flexible. The APRs are still high, but you need to drill down into the numbers and move past the headline-grabbing Representative APR rates of between 1286% up to 1,509%, and look at the total daily interest rates. For example, while a six-month loan for £450 at Representative APR 1286% would mean you’d end up paying a fixed interest rate of 292% (so a total repayment of £866.39), a shorter term loan for just two weeks of £150 would only see you paying back a total of £166.80.
High-interest loans are expensive if you go for the longer pay-back period of three to six months, but very short-term loans are more affordable.
Where are Wonga?
Wonga is based in London, with their registered offices listed as 88 Crawford Street, W1H 2EJ. The business services customers in South Africa, Spain, Germany and Poland. The majority of customers are in the UK.
The original Wonga was notorious for its failure to deal with customer complaints. However, since the relaunching of the brand, they’ve tidied up their complaints procedure and now make it much easier for customers to challenge decisions. Their Customer Resolution Process can be done via email, by post, or over the phone. It will help if you have any supporting documentation to back up your complaint. Wonga aim to acknowledge every complaint within 5 working days, and a final response within 8 weeks. If you are still not happy then you can approach the Financial Ombudsman Service to take the matter further.
Who can get a Wonga loan?
To apply for a Wonga loan you must be over 18, have a bank account with a debit card, own a mobile phone, and live in the UK. However, Wonga no longer accepts applications from everyone, and just because you meet the criteria does not mean you will be accepted for a loan.
There are three main types of loan:
- Six-month flexi-loan (Representative APR 1286% with a daily interest rate of 0.8%)
- Short term loan (1-35 days) (Representative APR 1509% with a daily interest rate of 0.8%)
- Three-month flexi-loan (Representative APR 1311% with a daily interest rate of 0.8%)
Because everything is done online, it’s important to make sure you have a secure server before you enter any of your details. As there’s no paperwork involved, make sure you keep screen shots of your loan agreement, and make sure you read the small print very carefully. Remember, as soon as you press ‘I Accept’ you’re entering into a formal agreement, so make sure it’s right for you.
Find out more about Wonga at www.wonga.com