Wonga boss welcomes Archbishop's vow to put brand out of business

The Archbishop of Canterbury has told payday loan company Wonga that the Church of England will "compete you out of existence"; with Wonga founder Errol Damelin retorting that he "welcomes competition".

Wonga: Archbishop of Canterbury has challenged payday loan firm's boss
Wonga: Archbishop of Canterbury has challenged payday loan firm's boss

Archbishop Justin Welby said in an interview that he had met with Damelin and discussed his opposition to payday loans, which Damelin's firm Wonga specialises in.

Welby said: "I’ve met the head of Wonga and I’ve had a very good conversation. I said to him quite bluntly we’re not in the business of trying to legislate you out of existence – we’re trying to compete you out of existence. He’s a businessman; he took that well."

Damelin has since responded. In a statement issued to Marketing, he said: "The Archbishop is an exceptional individual, with our discussions ranging from the future of banking and financial services to the emerging digital society. On his ideas for competing with us, Wonga welcomes competition from any quarter that gives the consumer greater choice in effectively managing their financial affairs."

Welby recently launched a credit union – a financial co-operative owned by its users – for clergy and church staff. He has since revealed plans to extend the reach of credit unions with measures such as encouraging church members with relevant skills to volunteer at credit unions, and allowing local credit unions to use church property.

In April, the Government announced a £38m investment in credit unions to give consumers an alternative to payday loan companies – which can charge excessively high interest rates of 1,000%.

Earlier this month, Newcastle United striker Papiss Cisse pulled out of the team’s pre-season tour because of a deal with Wonga, its lead sponsor. He failed to board a plan to Portugal with the rest of the team to start the tour, objecting on religious grounds to wearing Wonga-branded shirts.

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