The payday lending market has seen an explosion of growth since its inception in 2006. Adaptability and entrepreneurship coupled with tech-savvy that is usually applied in blue chip industries means that many of the earliest companies in the industry have seen huge expansion.
One of the largest and fastest-growing of those business is Wonga, which has expanded from the UK to Poland, Germany, Spain, and South Africa.
What is payday lending?
Payday lending is the provision of short-term, small amounts of cash designed to cover financial shortfalls from one payday to the next. They carry high APRs because they are intended to be paid in full within the short term, and offer benefits over other types of lending.
We live in an age where many people rely on credit, whether in the short or longer terms. Traditionally, people used to rely on their banks to provide overdrafts and loans, but many found that banks were inflexible, often having long application processes and requiring lengthy face-to-face discussions.
Payday lending usually offers a much faster application process and, crucially, a decision – which makes it ideal for cash shortfalls or quick credit for one-off, unexpected payments.
Who are Wonga?
Wonga was one of the very first payday lenders to launch in the UK. It was started in 2007 by South African entrepreneur Errol Damelin. Based entirely online, it revolutionised the market with new technology that meant it could automate the risk assessment process and speed up decision making.
This meant that customers could log in online, apply and get a decision, and receive the funds within a short space of time. That quick turnaround meant that Wonga became a big name in the market, and started its growth into other areas.
It sponsored a number of football teams as well as an ITV quiz show, and became recognised for its popular TV commercials. During that time, it also began to expand into other markets, notably South Africa and Poland.
Growth and expansion
In Germany, Wonga bought over BillPay – a popular ecommerce service that includes PayLater, a low-cost installment checkout option. The company has also enjoyed huge growth in South Africa with over a million South Africans having taken loans already.
Wonga also emerged in the Spanish market with an acquisition of Credito Pocket, a former provider of short-term loans. It has recently completed its rebranding to Wonga Spain, and is securing its foothold in that region.
On top of its global growth, Wonga has been recognised as an innovator, winning awards that include The Guardian Digital Innovation Digital Entrepreneur Award 2011, Number 1, The Sunday Times Tech Track 100 2011 and Fastest Growing Company, Media Momentum Awards 2012.
In July 2016 Wonga named its new CEO, Tara Kneafsey. She said: “We have achieved a great deal at Wonga over the last 18 months. There is more to do but we are well-advanced in our plans to turn the business around.”
Wonga has weathered the storm of controversy around payday lending in the UK, and admits that it hasn’t always got things right – however it is clear that it has learned, continued to improve and values clarity, transparency and fairness for its customers.
With the right attitude and its eye on expansion, Wonga continues to evolve and grow as a business.