Wonga Movie
The movie, “12 Portraits”, premiered on 4 November in the UK capital, London. The release followed the next day. Created with the objective of showing a sliver of modern British society, the movie features a look into the lives of individuals who have borrowed money from the digital finance company, Wonga.

The Idea behind the Movie
According to the director, Gary Tarn, “12 Portraits” explores the passions of 12 individuals with one thing in common: they are all Wonga customers. Apart from a credit at the end, the movie does not mention the company directly. Instead, it features the private lives of real people with no acting involved. They speak about their hobbies, work, family and other things that bring meaning to their lives. Viewers can discover the connection with the digital finance company when visiting openwonga.com. Throughout the production of “12 Portraits,” Tarn retained complete creative freedom and the company only received a copy of the movie once it was completed. He commented that the 30 minute long movie is quite profound.

Starring Real People 
The varied cast includes people that needed financial help for things like emergencies, educational supplements and small business cash flow. Deborah, a single mum, wanted to set up a franchise that offers haircuts to children in nursery schools and Lee, who runs his own cleaning firm, needed to cover travel costs to an important meeting that brought him a new contract. The stars of “12 Portraits” are all ordinary people living ordinary lives.
The movie can be watched online at openwonga.com where brief biographies of the customers are also available for perusal. Additionally, it will be screened in over 500 cinemas and partially televised on two television channels in the UK: Film 4 and Channel 4.

Wonga buys BillPay
With their recent purchase of BillPay, wonga.com has taken yet another step towards being an international multi-service digital finance concern. Wonga is a start-up based in the United Kingdom, known for providing short term loans to customers through the company's online platform. CEO and founder, Errol Damelin, has every intention of "taking on the future of finance, which is digital," and this is one more move towards that goal. According to a report by TechCrunch, Wonga aims at competing with PayPal and other electronic payment services across the European market. The acquisition is also expected to speed up the global expansion of the company and the development of an existing product called PayLater.

What is BillPay?
Like its American counterpart PayPal, BillPay is an e-commerce payment solutions company. It operates predominately in Germany but also has clients in Austria, Switzerland and more recently in the Netherlands. The company was founded in 2009 and has approximately two million users. Users can enjoy payment services from more than 3500 online vendors offering a wide range of services and products for sale. BillPay is also partnered with some of the biggest e-commerce vendors like DriveNow, CBR Group and Fahrrad.de. Payment methods are comprehensive and include installment credit and direct debit arrangements. 

Next Steps
Wonga has established a foothold in Spain and Poland, and is fast becoming entrenched in the European market. Following the purchase of BillPay, the future goals of the ambitious company are even more clear. Errol Damelin is quoted as saying, “The combined Wonga and BillPay business will consolidate our position as a pioneer in the financial revolution, offering customers a range of bold new payment and credit solutions for the modern world”. BillPay CEO Nelson Holzner stated that they feel that their services are complementary and that they are looking forward to working with Wonga.

Wonga Stories
The respected and well-known British filmmaker, Gary Tarn, is spending his time behind the scenes at Wonga, the short-term lending company. He is in the process of making a film about British society today through the lens of the digital finance company's customers. His aim is to film an accurate representation of Wonga’s customers. As much as Wonga is in the news, the story of many of its borrowers - the 'silent majority' - has not yet been told. The twelve customers who stories will be told have volunteered to participate in the documentary. 

Tarn Tells Their Tale

Tarn is probably best known for his award winning film Black Sun, which is a documentary of the blind author named Hugues de Montalembert. People also remember him for The Prophet, which Thandie Newton, a UK actress, narrated. In this new documentary, 12 Portraits, Tarn gets into the lives of twelve Wonga customers to share and bring to the light a few of their experiences. The volunteer customers are not being remunerated and there is no script for them to read as they tell their tale. He will lead the viewer into their lives as they share why they took a short-term loan from Wonga and how it impacted them. Tarn, who has full creative control over the entire direction of the film, sees this is an important project that will accurately reflect modern Britain. He began filming 12 Portraits in July of this year and expects to finish by December.

Hearing the Silent Majority

In commenting on the film, Niall Wass, who serves as COO of Wonga, said that everyone hears the loud voices of the critics, but the majority of their clients, who are silent, should be heard as well. In fact, 90% of those on their million plus customer list would be willing to recommend the short term loan company to their families and friends.

Wonga LoansImage courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Ms. Merryn Somerset Webb has recently written an article where she says how other financial institutions should follow Wonga’s example when it comes to lending to its customers. The article starts by discussing some of the problems that the financial industry in general has had to deal with over recent years. MoneyWeek’s editor-in-chief then talks further about how many of these problems have been the result of a lack of transparency within the industry. The article then states that because Wonga offers greater transparency with regards to the financial products it sells, its customers have quickly built up trust in the digital finance company – something which the more traditional financial institutions would be wise to follow suit.

Wonga technologyPixomar / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
The Telegraph featured the views of Lazard's Archie Norman on the rapid upward shift the technological sector has made in the UK, in the wake of the economy falling significantly behind. The chairman champions the notion that government backing should be pushed towards the digital companies, such as Wonga, making these rapid advancements possible. Norman believes that this will help gain competitive advantage and economic progress. He hopes that the country can reroute capital into supporting technology businesses instead of placing resource focus on fuel consumption and house prices alone. He strongly advocates the so-called "Googles" of tomorrow.

In an industry that is not noted for its transparency, Errol Damelin, CEO and co-founder, was quick to explain how Wonga operates, following the release of its first annual report and accounts for 2012.

Despite being a private company, Damelin made it clear that Wonga operates like a public company. He provided a detailed explanation into how Wonga makes its money and how it acts as a “good corporate citizen.”

By communicating its strategy and profitability, Wonga is living up to its values of openness and transparency.

Daily Telegraph 03 Sep 2013.

n a list compiled by the Sunday Times, Wonga has once again been named as one Britain’s leading technology companies. This is the third successive year Wonga has featured in the Tech Track 100 list. First published in 2001, Tech Track 100 provides information on the top performing British private companies working in technology, telecoms and digital media. In 2011 Wonga was ranked as the number 1 tech company in Britain. In 2012, it finished 3rd, which was the first time that a company featured in the top three, two years running. In 2013, the online money lender features in the list at number sixteen impressively remaining within the top 20 for three years in a row.
Wonga Tech Track 100
jscreationzs / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Following the first public release of Wonga’s annual accounts, CEO Errol Damelin explained that the company’s almost 1 million customers represented only a third of those who actually applied for short term loans. As a responsible lender, Wonga only lends to people who can afford to borrow and therefore turns down many first time loan applicants. Most of Wonga’s customers, whom Damelin dubbed the “Facebook generation,” use Wonga to provide a short term fix, rather than having to pay unauthorised overdraft charges. 

Damelin explained that Wonga serves customers who want to take out a loan and know that they can repay it in three days, in just the same way they want to buy an item on iTunes.

Wonga’s annual accounts for 2012 showed that company lending increased by 68 percent, with the number of UK loans reaching nearly 4 million.

James Quinn, Financial Editor of the Daily Telegraph, 03 Sep 2013
Facebook Generation
Image courtesy of Pixomar / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Wonga customersImage courtesy of adamr / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
In an interview given to Faisal Islam, Economics Editor at Channel 4 News, Errol Damelin explained that its average customer makes a proactive decision to take out a Wonga loan, preferring this to an unauthorised bank overdraft or using a credit card for the fear of building up long term debt.

Indeed the average first time loan taken out by a new Wonga customer is £180 and is repaid after 17 days.

Damelin explained that the vast majority of Wonga customers are young people in employment, with a bank account, smartphone and with an immediate short term cash need. 

For a generation of young people just out of university and often saddled with massive debt, the thought of taking on additional long term loans is extremely unappealing. Wonga loans satisfy their short term cash need.

Channel 4 News, Faisal Islam, Economics Editor, 03 Sep 2013

Healy O'Donnell School of Irish Dancing
Wish Sport is a campaign set up by the Newcastle Chronicle and Wonga that hopes to give something back to local sports and community clubs in the Tyneside region. Up for grabs is the chance to take home a slice of £30,000. The money can then be put towards a variety of things including buying new kit, refurbishing a clubhouse or improving sports facilities. The campaign is part of an ongoing commitment from Wonga to invest in grassroots sports in the area. One local Irish dancing school is calling on readers of the Chronicle to help them win some of the cash prize by collecting tokens on their behalf.