Avid BW readers will know that Wonga is in a complete mess at the moment, and some fear that it could actually go under.
They made a £37.3m loss in 2014.
However, the payday lender might have a trick up their sleeve as they are weighing up a name-change as they look to replace their toxic brand. With a new name will come a new range of products, according to bosses.
“With the cap on interest rates and lower fees, the margins have shrunk for individual profits,” said chief finance officer Paul Miles. “If we were setting up from scratch, we could build a sustainably profitable business. But we have the issue of our legacy, and how we manage our cost base.”
Wonga’s UK gaffer, Tara Kneafsey added: “We have worked hard to repair our position with the short-term loan product, and coming out of that we have 600,000 loyal customers who like the brand and use the product in the right way. But in the wider 13m market, we have to ask how far the brand travels. There are different customers with different needs.”
So with that, comes a rebranding: “No puppets will feature, nor anything that looks like a puppet,” confirmed Kneafsey. Not surprising as the ad company that came up with the puppets won’t have anything to do with Wonga.
The Government confirmed a couple of months ago, that the fee for issuing a money claim for anything worth more than £10,000 would be increased to 5% of the sum claimed, which has left one lobbying group outraged at the ”astonishing” fee increases of up to 600%.
Under these new rules, for example, fees on a claim worth £300,000 have been raised to £8,080, where it would have once been £1,920. That’s a rise of 421%.
Director of policy at the British Chambers of Commerce, Adam Marshall, said: “We remain concerned that a lot of companies in supply chains could be dissuaded from using the courts to resolve long running late payment disputes.”
“At a time when the situation seems to be getting worse not better, restricting access to one potential remedy is not encouraging.”
The Government won’t be raising the cost of getting a divorce and other fee reforms, mercifully. Justice Minister Shailesh Vara said: “Access to justice is a fundamental principle of our legal system and this is not threatened. 90% of the claims will be unaffected by these changes and waivers will also be available for those who cannot afford to pay. Our courts play a critical role and it is important that they are properly funded.”
“It is only fair that businesses and individuals who can afford to pay and are fighting legal battles should contribute more in fees to ease the burden on hardworking taxpayers.”
“Court fees are a small fraction of the overall cost of litigation and Britain’s reputation for having the best justice system in the world remains intact.”
The never-ending saga that is the misselling of PPI to the people of the UK rumbles on, taking a fresh turn with Santander’s UK wing adding more money to the naughty pot as it looks like there’s going to be more compensation being paid out to customers.
Sky News has found that the bank, alongside announcing their full-year results, will also be putting £20 million aside for PPI misselling, which will be the third time they’ve done it over the scandal.
This follows the news that the FCA are still looking into this giant mess, and that it looks like there’s going to be a time-limit added to proceedings in a bid to get this all sorted, once and for all.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said it would “consider whether further interventions may be appropriate – which could include a consumer communication campaign; a possible time limit on complaints; or other rule changes or guidance – or whether the continuation of the PPI scheme in its current form best meets its objectives”.
Since January 2011, the various banks involved in this fiasco have handled over 14 million PPI consumer complaints, upholding somewhere in advance of 70% of them, paying out billions in compensation.
Santander themselves, put aside £751m in 2011 to give to customers, and a further £65m in 2014. And now, there’s going to be a further £20m, which adds to to a whole lot of money.
A time limit is expected to be welcomed by Santander, and to be honest, everyone else involved in this as it would be beneficial for not just the banks, but for customers too.
If you think you’re owed compensation from your bank, wait until the official announcement tomorrow and they’ll invariably be in touch. Failing that, call the bank at 0845 600 6014 on a landline, or 0345 600 6014 from a mobile, 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday and 9am to 4pm on Saturdays. Or you can do it online.
The PPI debacle has become one of the most shameful episodes in British banking of the last ten years. And there’s quite a range of knobbery to select from.
A whopping £17.3 billion has now been paid out, after PPI was ruled to be an utterly despicable piece of mis-selling, often with no actual thought as to whether the customer could pay it back or not.
Payment Protection Insurance or PPI, was meant to protect borrowers in the event of sickness or unemployment, but were often sold to those who would have been ineligible to claim.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said it would use its findings, due to be published in the summer, to assess if the current approach to compensating customers is working properly. Because there just hasn’t been enough money squandered on this.
The FCA said in a statement: “The FCA will then consider whether further interventions may be appropriate, which could include a consumer communication campaign; a possible time limit on complaints; or other rule changes or guidance, or whether the continuation of the PPI scheme in its current form best meets its objectives,”
“While this work continues, the FCA expects firms to continue to deal with PPI complaints in accordance with our requirements,”
Banks such as Lloyds, Barclays, HSBC and Royal Bank of Scotland have already set aside £24 billion to compensate consumers, with many of them wiping off the entire debt of customers
Since 2011, the banks have dealt with over 14 million complaints about PPI, and have got to around 70% of customers paid back.
There’s still around 4,000 complaints coming through the banks each week about PPI, so even if you have the slightest doubt, get in touch with them.
Honestly, you can’t trust anyone these days.
It’s hoped that this will pump the Post Office up to becoming a leading challenger-type brand in the financial services solutions market, while the big bank set start to wind down branches on the high street.
Business secretary Vince Cable is to meet up with major lenders to sort out a deal that will let bank customers make the most of the Post Office’s 11,5000 branches.
The Post Office currently offers products including insurance, mortgages, savings accounts and foreign exchange, some of which are provided through a partnership with Bank of Ireland.
Speaking to Sky News, Nick Kennett, director of financial services at Post Office Money, said: “Consumers want a choice about how they manage their money; at Post Office Money our customers have access to an unrivalled network as well as online and phone, combined with multi-award winning products.
“We have been listening to our customers and know that people are facing some big financial decisions, and through the new Post Office Money we want to become their first choice when thinking about a mortgage, credit card or a safe haven for their savings.”
The Post Office network has around three million customers within its banking and insurance business and nine million people use its foreign currency exchange services, while 2,500 of its branches open on Sundays.
Vince Cable is said to be quite keen on the idea, after getting cheesed off with major banks who decided not to renew a commitment not to close branches where they are the only one left in local communities.
The banks are all saying that with technology and the like, people are doing less in a bank, and more online.
But Mr Cable argued to Sky News that: “There are a lot of people who are not connected who also need to do basic banking functions, and we mustn’t be in a position where large numbers of villages and other small communities are effectively being cut off from banking.
“If the banks cannot perform that service we need an adequate substitute, and they’ve got a responsibility to help provide it.”
The fuss-free so-called ‘challenger’ bank has also had nearly half a million people open accounts in the last year. On top of that, it also saw its deposits soar from £1.3bn to £2.9bn, with lending growing to £1.6bn from £754m.
Since the bank’s launch in 2010, it has opened 31 branches across the south east of the UK and now plans another 10 during 2015, including branches in Brighton, Southend and Harrow.
Metro Bank’s appeal is that it would rather focus on service rather than compete with the bigger banks in best buy charts for savings and the like. They also offer existing customers the same deals as new customers, by now kowtowing to cheap deal gimmicks. The bank’s best offering at the moment is a two-year fixed-rate cash Isa paying 1.8%, which creeps into Moneyfacts best buy deals behind the Post Office’s 1.95% rate.
Craig Donaldson, chief executive of Metro Bank, said: “2014 was another great year for Metro Bank. Throughout the year we saw substantial growth in deposits and lending, and the number of personal and business customers joining the banking revolution has continued to increase. As we start a new year, we’re excited to continue innovating and providing a real banking choice to the British people, as well as maintaining our commitment to deliver the best in service and convenience.”
4% of the women surveyed said they were paying to work, because their costs were greater than their earnings.
Understandably, this is quite a frustrating affair for anyone with nippers.
This echoes an earlier CBI suggestion that the government should give a bit more of a shit about, and extend childcare support for those with children around the one and two mark. The CBI employers’ organisation said that this, and raising the threshold for National Insurance, would help raise family incomes and get more adults into work.
43% of the parents surveyed, who had children aged up to five, said they used childcare to enable them to go back to work.
According to The Family and Childcare Trust, the cost of childcare in the UK was £11,700 for an average family with one child in full-time nursery and one child in an afterschool club. Further to Avuva’s survey of 2,000 parents with kids aged up to five, saw that the lower earner’s wage was left with £243 a month, once they’d shelled out for childcare, commuting and all that sort of thing.
Louise Colley, protection director at Aviva, said: “[Our] findings paint a picture of a nation of parents struggling to keep their heads, and careers, above water in the face of rising childcare costs,”
The government claims – between thinking about legalising fox-hunting and shoving luxury flats everywhere – that it is doing more than its predecessors to tackle the cost of childcare.
But a recent report by the Pre-school Learning Alliance shaded this claim, and said that the government’s free childcare scheme was facing “chronic underfunding”.
An advert on the company’s website, which has now been taken down, said that the company was seeking a London-based intern to “drive out the roll-out” of Apple Pay across Europe, the Middle East, India and Africa.
It said: “Apple Pay is a new and exciting area in Apple that is set to expand across Europe, Middle East, India and Africa.”
“Apple Pay will change the way consumers pay with breakthrough contactless payment technology and unique security features built right into their iPhone 6 or Apple Watch to pay in an easy, secure, and private way.”
Apple Pay is two services that need close links between Apple and the banks.
The first is an in-app payment tool, which developers can implement to allow customers to make purchases without entering credit card details. In apps such as Uber, users will instead be able to pay by simply tapping the touch ID sensor of an iPhone 6, iPad Air 2 or iPad mini 3.
The other allows users to buy items in stores using their NFC-enabled iPhone 6, or their Apple Watch – which is yet to go on sale.
Over in the states, Apple have been making sure that retailers have the sufficient hardware handy. Whereas in Europe, we’re a bit ahead technology wise, and it’s expected to less hassle to launch.
Oh, the future is more trouble than it’s worth.
The previous contract between the government and the Post Office had been due to expire in March 2015, but crisis has been averted and now been extended to the new date in the future.
The card is a lifeline for those 2.5 million people – at least half of those being pensioners – who have no truck with banks
The account allows holders to get their cash out at the Post Office’s 11,500 branches or 2,500 cash machines.
Pensions Minister Steve Webb welcomed the news, saying: “Although most people have a bank account, there are certain groups for whom this is not viable and, for them, the Post Office card account provides an important lifeline,”
He also threw in the bonus news of the contract costing 10% cheaper than previously, but the amount paid to subpostmasters per transaction remained the same.
George Thomson, general secretary of the National Federation of Subpostmasters, said: “The renewal of the Post Office Card Account will help provide the Post Office network with a more stable future.”
The bank are trialling a prototype glove that will ‘tap and pay’ like shoppers would do with contactless cards.
Barclaycard’s cashless mittens are embedded with a small contactless chip that can be linked to a credit or debit card. And look so, so stylish.
You can use them to pay for items up to £20 which all sounds a bit of an effort to be honest.
They are presently being tested on guinea pig shoppers (not people shopping for actual guinea pigs) in the UK and may take off next year if they go down well.
Barclaycard added that it is working on, rather sexistly, ‘his and hers’ versions of the gloves, with the women’s version having a softer and more ‘fleecy’ appearance than the men’s.
Mike Saunders, managing director of digital consumer payments at Barclaycard, said that the gloves “could be bringing some festive cheer to bag-laden shoppers by Christmas 2015″. No, honest. He did.
The company had previously announced that they have already been testing out bPay wristbands. Oh they might as well just turn us all into cyborgs and be done with it, eh readers?
The tax helpline has been criticised in a new report by the watchdog of consumers, saying that there had been little improvement in the service since they met up in July with the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which served them a scathing review of their lengthy waiting times and shoddiness in answering phone calls, which were costing customers £136 million a year.
The service will be in heavy demand in the next two months, as thousands will be completing their self-assessment tax returns before January 31st.
HMRC’s chief executive Lin Homer, reckons that they had been improving the service in recent months.
However, Which!!!’s report details that 29% of calls made by their members, were cut off by an automated answering system carping on about the lines being busy.
Where there were 71 instances of callers not being cut off, they were then put on hold for an average of 18 minutes, with one caller being held hostage for 41 minutes. PAC chairwoman Margaret Hodge said: “Customers of Government services should be able to contact those services easily and cheaply.”
The FCA have come in to tackle some blatantly unfair pricing scenes
The loan brokers have made as many as one million attempts a month to raid the bank accounts of some of the poorest members of society, who they’ve hoodwinked into having loans.
The payday loaners also charge a fee of around £50-75 and then will share people’s bank details with up to 200 companies. Which is not on, frankly.
The financial regulator has said it had blocked seven payday loan brokers from taking on new business, with three in line for further enforcement action. Sounds sexy.
According to NatWest, they reckon they were being contacted daily in October, by vulnerable customers being hounded by extra charges.
The FCA has said new rules would come into force on 2 January 2015, and would end the lack of clear information on the websites currently luring people into paying fees they’re not aware of.
The rules will ban credit brokers from charging fees to customers, and from requesting customers’ bank details unless they comply with new requirements. Transparency is key and people have to make it clear who they are dealing with, what fee will be payable, and when and how the fee will be payable.
The FCA said that over 40% of consumer credit complaints received were about credit brokers: “The FCA has also received relevant intelligence from consumer groups and others who are seeing increasing complaints from people who have had money taken from their accounts unexpectedly and often by more than one broker.”
RBS NatWest are the first bank to shade up the shady, and has terminated arrangements with 20 brokers already, but it’s a slippery affair as these companies are like eels.
According to reports, chancellor George Osborne is looking at announcing a change in next week’s Autumn Statement.
The original time limit of 30 days was reduced to a week last year.
The Treasury are expected to also extend its ‘switching guarantee’ to small businesses with a turnover of up to £6.5million. The guarantee is currently restricted to firms taking less than £2million.
This reduction in the time limit will encourage competition between banks and building societies, wherein they’re expected to increase interest rates to attract new customers and switchers.
Rates on instant-access current accounts have been at a record low since July, and show no signs of improving. The average is now just 0.42%, below the Bank of England’s base rate of 0.5%.
So get switching if you’ve been complaining about your bank since forever.
The Retailer’s Offer scheme is open to their debit and credit card customers, who can pick out their favourite stores from a list of 100 or so, such as Argos, New Look, Hertz, Patisserie Valerie and Heals.
There’ll be a handful of personalised offers each month, which will be based on what the get up to in the high street.
The move by Santander follows in the footsteps of Halifax, Lloyds Bank and Natwest, which also launched rewards schemes in recent months.
Santander already offers their 123 customers 1% for supermarket shops, 2% for department stores and 3% for TfL, National Rail and petrol.
It also pays 1% on water, council tax and Santander mortgage payments, a higher rate of 2% on gas and electricity bills and 3% on mobile, home phone, broadband and paid for TV packages.
The perk is offered to both new and existing account holders for free through their online banking so you can’t just shout “BUT I’M WITH SANTANDER!” at a shopkeeper and demand cash back. Click here to find out more.
The government has to upgrade living standards for Britain’s hard working families with £7bn of tax cuts and childcare subsidies, otherwise they will rescind the right to bang on about ‘hard working families’, according to the CBI.
The group reckon that some fairly radical ideas need to be dreamt up and implemented, as families and low-income workers are forever at the wrong end of the crap-stick, financially.
It is calling for changes to national insurance, an extension of free childcare and extended maternity pay as measures that would make an immediate difference.
In a new report called A Better Off Britain, John Cridland, the director general, said: “The financial crisis and the slow recovery have hit people’s finances hard. Living standards will gradually improve as the economy does. But growth on its own will not be the miracle cure.”
The CBI is also calling for a gradual increase in the threshold at which employees pay national insurance to £10,500 – bringing it line with the income tax personal allowance – over the next parliament.
It is estimated that this would bring in an extra £363 a year. While not staggering, it’s better than nothing.
The CBI is also calling for an extension of the 15 hours a week of free childcare for three and four-year-olds to all one and two-year-olds, saving the average family with a one-year-old £3,430 a year. As well as recommending statutory maternity pay be extended from nine to 12 months, closing the gap between when maternity pay ends and financial assistance for childcare kicks in.
Cridland went on to say that despite the expense to the Treasury – about £7bn over the next parliament – the measures did not amount to the government abandoning its deficit reduction plans.
“Tackling the deficit is an absolute priority, but I don’t think it’s an either/or debate. We need to be more ambitious about the ways we tackle the deficit. Deficit reduction doesn’t have to be cut and slash.”
The average couple with two children saw their real income fall by £2,132 a year between 2009-10 and 2012-13 according to the CBI. Inflation has outpaced wage growth for much of the period since 2008.
He also hit out at large companies who refuse to pay the minimum wage: “The National Minimum Wage is about ability to pay. The Living Wage is what people need to earn. Should companies pay the Living Wage if they are able to? Yes. I would encourage them to. Can it ever be more than an encouragement? No.”