Carl Packman, author of Loan Sharks comments on Wonga

Written by Carl Packman Thursday, 02 August 2012 10:50
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Wonga chief executive Errol Damelin was the subject of an interview with the Guardian's deputy editor Ian Katz recently.


Once referred to as "ice-cool" by the Telegraph for his marathon runs in the antarctic, he felt the heat after being asked one particular question.


The question regarded who it is Wonga lends to, and whether they are all tech-savvy, median income professionals who are just a bit hard up from time to time.


The question regards previous exposure of the company. In March this year, Amelia Gentleman requested from Wonga some examples of good loans made by the company. Wonga showcased Susan.


Susan, an unemployed nurse, had taken out half a dozen loans from the company to pay for bills and food. Not only will Susan's income be significantly less than that of the average borrower, she's also taken out nearly double the average amount of payday loans a borrower takes out in a year (which is 3.5).


It says a lot about the desperation of some, like Susan, who take out expensive loans just to eat and be warm, but it also says something about Wonga.


The problem is Wonga won't share borrower demographics, on the grounds of commercial sensitivity, so we are unable to see how often this happens.


But if Susan is an example of Wonga's success, then many more questions ought to be being asked of them.


Loan Sharks will be published in September 2012. 

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