Wonga - what does it say about the use of FCA investigatory powers?

Wonga - what does it say about the use of FCA investigatory powers?

All change for affordability criteria?

 15/10/2014

Financial Services analysis: What could Wonga entering into a voluntary requirement with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) mean for other payday lenders? Jacob Ghanty, partner within Berwin Leighton Paisner's financial regulation practice, analyses the significance of the case.

 Original news

Wonga enters voluntary agreement with FCA, LNB News 02/10/2014 215

Wonga will have to make immediate changes to its business after it entered into a voluntary requirement with the FCA. Wonga will introduce new interim lending criteria aiming to improve customer outcomes, and will work to put in place a new permanent lending decision platform as soon as possible.

What is the background to the voluntary requirement?

The background is that the FCA took over regulation of consumer credit from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) on 1 April 2014 and that signalled a change in approach by the regulator. The FCA is a lot more intrusive and interventionist than the OFT ever was and pretty much as soon as it took over it began to conduct a thematic review of payday lending companies. As part of that it focused, perhaps not surprisingly, on probably the highest profile lender in this market place, Wonga.

 What did the FCA say about Wonga's actions leading up to the agreement?

Clive Adamson, director of supervision at the FCA, said:

 'We are determined to drive up standards in the consumer credit market and it is disappointing that some firms still have a way to go to meet our expectations. This should put the rest of the industry on notice--they need to lend affordably and responsibly.'

 I think they were expressing disappointment around progress made by some firms in this area and they've used the process in relation to Wonga in part it seems as a warning to the rest of the industry.

In advance of all this there had been a lot of speculation as to how the FCA would be different from the OFT in terms of the consumer credit market. I think a lot of people expected them to be a more aggressive regulator and that appears to be how it is turning out.

 

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