The raft of changes at the short term lender Wonga are coming thick and fast, as Brett van Aswegen, the newly appointed chief executive officer (CEO), takes control of the South African arm of the business. This latest appointment follows the resignation of Wonga South Africa CEO, Kevin Hurwitz, in October last year, and the departure of the South African co-founders of the business, Errol Damelin and Jonty Hurwitz.
The apparent revolving door policy at Wonga is all part of an overhaul in approach and personnel, following a turbulent 2014 in both the UK and South Africa. A fresh approach to lending and a new look management team is the harbinger of things to come for Wonga.
Sweeping industry changes
The short-term lending industry has changed beyond all recognition in the last year; changes that many will agree were long overdue. In the UK, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has introduced a host of new regulations.
Interest charges and fees have been capped at just 0.8 percent to reduce the cost of a payday loan, while the total cost of a short-term loan has been limited to 100 percent of the original sum to protect borrowers from repayment amounts which could otherwise spiral out of control. A default fee cap of £15 has also been introduced.
In South Africa, a number of lenders have been forced to rescind judgements taken against borrowers in cases where loans were approved without proof of consumers’ income or living expenses being sought.
A fresh appointment and a new outlook
The online loan site Wonga.co.za aims to meet the demands of a changing industry with the appointment of a new CEO with decades of experience in the consumer credit sector. Brett van Aswegen began his career in 1994 in the credit division of the Edcon Group, before joining Standard Bank’s retail banking division. In 1999, he joined the Lewis Group, a well known furniture retailed in South Africa, where he stayed for more than 12 years. In 2006, after seven years at the company, he joined the company’s board as credit risk director.
During his time at the Lewis Group, van Aswegen was responsible for implementing a number of risk models, credit systems and direct marketing strategies that made the Lewis Group the first furniture retailer in South Africa to offer customer-level credit facilities. Van Aswegen was also the chairperson of the Credit Providers Association when the National Credit Act was first introduced in South Africa.
Welcoming the appointment, Mark Ruddock, the managing director of the Wonga Group, said: “After an extensive search, we’re pleased to secure someone of van Aswegen’s strong calibre to lead the South African arm of the business. With more than 20 years’ experience in the African retail credit and financial services industry, van Aswegen is the perfect choice for the role.”