Can “Wonga: The Movie” Make Us Love the Payday Lender? | The independent

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Controversial payday lender Wonga has come under fire ahead of a new film which he hopes contradicts claims he exploits vulnerable consumers. Directed by Gary Tarn, nominated for the Bafta, 12 portraits will debut on Monday in a glitzy premiere in Soho.

It is billed as a “modern, authentic and relevant portrait of British life” and will tell the “real stories” behind why people borrow money from Wonga. The launch comes less than 24 hours before the bosses of some of Britain’s biggest payday lending companies appear before MPs as calls mount for tighter regulation of the industry.

Payday lenders have come under fire for their huge interest rates and advertisements, which in some cases seem to shed light on the harmful effects of their products. Following its release, 12 portraits should be disseminated via social networks.

Business Secretary Jo Swinson was among those who this weekend added her voice to criticism of payday lenders. Ms Swinson is due to appear at Tuesday’s session, which will hear testimony from bosses of major breakdown companies.

She said: “I am certainly concerned that vulnerable clients are attracted to advertisements to take out payday loans that are not suitable for them. While for some people in certain circumstances payday loans can be a useful product, there are many others who are already in financial difficulty.

She added: “These lenders have much larger advertising budgets than charities or government financial boards could hope to have.”

More than a million people are considering taking out a payday loan to cover the cost of Christmas, according to the government-backed Money Advice Service.

Serai Hann from Swansea took out a £ 100 loan to buy Christmas presents and was hit with a £ 600 bill. “The film will feature 12 cases of people who have taken out loans and are able to pay them off every week, she said. “But for each of them, there are thousands and thousands pledging for a deeper and more destructive debt.”

Steve Doran, who struggled with debt after taking out a Wonga loan in March 2011, said: “At the end of the day, it’s often very desperate people who make decisions under very difficult circumstances.

Even after paying off her debts, she says she is still hassled by advertising. “Even now, I get offers to win an Xbox or participate in raffles.”

12 portraits is released as the Financial Conduct Authority finalizes plans to be introduced next year that would require lenders to place “risk warnings” on advertising. The rules will allow payday lenders to roll over a loan only twice, while only two failed attempts to get money back from an account will be allowed.

Wonga says about 85% of its loans are repaid on time and less than 10% of loans are extended. Niall Wass, COO of the company, said: “We have some scathing criticism and while scrutiny of the mistakes we make is absolutely appropriate, the voices of the people who actually use and appreciate our services – the silent majority – is usually absent from the picture. “


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