Simon Read: Watchdog bares its teeth on payday loans

  • @simonnread

There was great news this week for those of us who want the payday lender market cleaned up. The 451-branch Cheque Centre has effectively been forced to scrap payday loans by new Financial Conduct Authority rules.

This is a major move by the City watchdog, which took over regulation of the high-cost credit sector last month. I haven't been confident that it would back up its promises to crack down on rogue lenders but it's doing just that.

FCA chief Martin Wheatley sent out a fresh warning to rogue lenders. "This is an early victory for people who use payday lenders," he said.

"I have said before that firms would need to dramatically improve their operations or exit the market, and we are now seeing that happening. Other payday lenders should take note."

Under the agreement, Cheque Centre has stopped selling single instalment payday loans altogether and has suspended debt collection telephone calls to customers until it has improved its processes.

Meanwhile a rival payday lender has had its ads banned. Payday Unlocked, owned by Nouveau Finance, was slammed by the Advertising Standards Authority over a series of irresponsible text messages.

One of the unsolicited messages promised £400 in 15 minutes while another promised "£200 today".

The ASA branded the ads irresponsible and warned the firm to make sure its ads are "prepared with a sense of responsibility".

I'd like all advertising that encourages people to take out loans they can't afford to be banned. But failing that, I'm happy to see high street firms move out of payday lending.

Twitter: @simonnread