Online payday lender, Wonga.com South Africa has appointed furniture retailer Lewis Group’s former credit risk director, Brett van Aswegen as its new CEO.
“After an extensive search, we’re pleased to secure someone of Van Aswegen’s strong calibre to lead our South African arm of the business,” commented Mark Ruddock, international MD for the Wonga Group.
Van Aswegen’s appointment follows the resignation of Wonga South Africa CEO, Kevin Hurwitz in October last year. According to Times Live, Hurwitz’s departure was kept quiet and followed the exit of South African co-founders, Errol Damelin and Jonty Hurwitz.
Wonga came under fire with British and South African regulators last year. In the UK, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) ordered Wonga to write off £220 million (R3.9 billion) of loans to 375 000 borrowers, as they were granted recklessly, The Guardian reported.
In July, South Africa’s National Credit Regulator (NCR) found, among other wrongdoings, that Wonga did not obtain proof of consumers’ income and living expenses before granting loans. It ordered Wonga to rescind judgements taken against consumers where this was the case.
Introduced revolving credit at Lewis
Van Aswegen starts as soon as April 20. His LinkedIn profile suggests he hasn’t been working since December 2014, when he left his position as managing director of cards at afb, after a three-month stint as operations director at HomeChoice.
At afb, a consumer finance business, Van Aswegen led a team of more than 500 people to build the first retail credit card operation in Kenya, issuing the most credit cards in the market.
Van Aswegen began his career in 1994 with the Edcon Group’s credit division, later joining Standard Bank retail banking. In 1999, he joined the Lewis Group, where he remained for more than 12 years, joining the listed company’s board in 2006 as credit risk director.
“During his tenure at the company he implemented credit systems, risk models and direct marketing strategies to make Lewis the first furniture retailer in South Africa to offer customer-level revolving credit facilities,” Wonga said.
Lewis, along with other furniture stores, has come under strain in recent years for over-reliance on credit sales. At its annual results last year, Moneyweb reported that it could lose up to 10% of its R5.2 billion annual revenue if the NCR caps fees on credit life insurance. The proposed cap is around half of what Lewis currently charges for credit life per R1000 loan, but was not included in the recently effected National Credit Amendment Act (NCAA) and remains under discussion by the industry.
Van Aswegen was chairperson of the Credit Providers Association during the time the National Credit Act was introduced in South Africa and “helped guide the credit industry through the transformation required with the introduction of the Act,” Wonga said.