News and views

Targeting vulnerable customers

Date article publshed: 01/03/2012 Read original article >

Back in March 2012, the Guardian ran an in-depth feature covering a broad view of Wonga, including concerns over light-hearted advertising and descriptions of the corporate culture at our head office.

The article also explored a potential disconnect between internal and external perceptions of the business. For example, Wonga describing itself as a “convenient service for an internet-savvy group of consumers,” compared with “campaigners against the rapidly growing payday loan industry” who describe us “as ‘immoral and unjust’ and ‘legal loan sharks’.”

The main theme of the article is that of the real life experiences of a small sample of Wonga customers. It compared Wonga’s view of its customers ("young professionals who are web-savvy, fully-banked, have access to mainstream credit and a regular income") with that of critics (“vulnerable customers in real financial difficulty that the campaign groups are trying to protect”).

Wonga's view

Who uses our services and why remains one of the most regular misconceptions about the business. The reality is out of sync with a frequent media view that we prey on vulnerable or low-income families in hard times.

However, it is clearly possible to find some people who are unhappy, in distress or we shouldn’t have approved.

Our customers

To give a balanced view of our customers, here are some statistics compiled from Wonga loan data and an independent survey conducted by Populus in 2012 with more than 28,000 respondents.

All Wonga customers have a bank account, debit card and mobile phone, plus the average loan is around a quarter (£255) of the maximum amount (£1000) they could apply for in theory.

In the latest customer survey, fewer than 1 in 10 stated they came to Wonga as their only source of credit at the time and the vast majority of customers also stated they have traditional forms of credit and other options available to them.


Wonga loan data shows that fewer than 1 in 10 people extend their loans, while almost a quarter repay early and save money on the original cost provided. 92% of survey respondents said they would recommend Wonga to a friend and there is only one complaint upheld by the Financial Ombudsman Service in every 400,000 loans we make.

Our service

We track our Net Promoter Score (NPS) consistently as a measure of our performance from a customer perspective. It works by asking how likely a customer would be to recommend a business to a friend or colleague, and then divides customers into promoters, passives and detractors. An overall score is established from the percentage of promoters minus the percentage of detractors.


Our average Net Promoter Score is +72%. The UK banking industry has a sector average of 0%, meaning the average UK bank has as many detractors as it does promoters.

So given all of this positive reaction from a large number of customers on a regular basis, how do we explain the negative case studies in the piece published by the Guardian?

We can’t make a case for it. We won’t make excuses. We just need to keep diligent (to the point of obsession) in tightening up our processes. There are currently 8,000 data points used to assess lending risk and these will continue to get more numerous and sophisticated.

Credit scoring

Despite declining almost two-thirds of first loan applications, we still don’t always get it right. We will continue to develop our credit scoring systems, to try and ensure that the people who shouldn’t be taking out Wonga loans are declined (with as much information and advice as possible).

We’ll also carry on working with organisations like the Citizens Advice Bureau to keep driving awareness of the problems of too much debt. People have accountability for their own actions, but it’s our job to make them aware of all the facts so they can make the correct decisions.

Until we strike that balance, nobody will be entirely happy with our performance, including ourselves, and we found this piece a humbling and reflective read.

Response by Editor Published: Categories Wonga Customers

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