OUTLOOK: Provident could be the latest Robin Hood in reverse

 

Outlook Before wonga.com there was Provident Financial. Sadly it is still with us. Provvie's core business used to be providing small loans door to door at ruinous rates of interest, with payments collected weekly by a network of agents.

That's suffered. Its customer base has been cutting back, and younger borrowers who are refused by banks prefer to deal with Provvie's rivals via their smartphones.

But sadly this is not a business in the throes of a long-term decline. Not a bit of it. The credit cards issued by its Vanquis Bank have proved to be a remarkable success story. After the disaster that was Yes Car Credit and its spin-off of its overseas business it seems that Provvie has found a formula that actually works.

The City thinks so, the shares having doubled in value over the past year or so.

Did you think Wonga was the only company that could claim to be Robin Hood in reverse, squeezing money out of the poor to benefit the wealthy? Well, Provvie isn't quite there yet. But Little John in reverse? The performance of Vanquis over the past year certainly makes the firm a contender for that title.

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