Alternative lender George Banco wants to take on Amigo Loans by operating in the same guarantor loan space, writes Ryan Bembridge.
The lender provides personal loans – viewed as an alternative to payday – between £1,500 and £5,000 at 46.8%% APR which requires the support of a guarantor, commonly a parent or close family member.
The business was set up in October 2013 yet in the words of Marc Howells, managing director, “only now are we really going in earnest”.
He said: “We want to be seen as an alternative for Amigo Loans. They haven’t had a company to match them.
“If you look at Amigo they have 50,000 customers in guarantor loans. In the next three years we aim to emulate the numbers they have reached.”
Although George Banco currently operates on guarantor loans, it wants to expand to other forms of lending such as car loans.
To aid its growth the business plans to advertise via Google primarily.
When asked what makes George Banco different from Amigo, its chief executive officer Jeremy Thomas responded: “We have a more advanced technology platform which provides an excellent customer experience and we are more focused on affordability checking
“We take over 90 touch points of data on the applicants and guarantor using four different third party partners.”
Data on applicants is checked via the credit bureau for example, as Marc Howells said: “In the spirit of affordability you need to understand the financial habits of the people you deal with.”
Amigo requires the guarantor to have a clean credit profile and they do not need to be homeowners.
It takes eight minutes for the application to run through, which is placed in control of the applicant and the guarantor.
Howells believes that this is the right time for safer kinds of short-term finance to take the mantle from payday lending.
He said: “Since the regulator is pushing payday out of the market where can customers go to get an alternative?
“This is the right time to operate in this space as the market is growing.”
The product is designed to consolidate payday debts, he added. “Since MMR was introduced there’s been a significant increase in individuals who cannot get a mortgage because they are declined at the mortgage stage and predominantly that’s because they have payday loans.
“We’re trying to sit above payday lending and get people’s credit history back on track.
“We see ourselves filling that middle gap between the banks and payday lenders.
“If you go back in UK history having an unsecured loan is seen as very different from a payday loan which is more a desperation decision.”