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PiggyBank owner collapses into administration

Kalyeena Makortoff Banking correspondent
Photograph: Yui Mok/PA

The payday lender PiggyBank has collapsed, making it the latest short-term creditor to fail in recent weeks amid a fresh crackdown by the City regulator.

HJS has been appointed to carry out the administration of PiggyBank’s parent company, DJS, leaving about 45,000 customers facing financial uncertainty.

PiggyBank was forced to stop trading in July after the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) raised concerns about poor affordability checks. The lender, one of the UK’s 10 largest payday operators, was forced to carry out an assessment to make sure it was lending to customers who could pay back their loans.

Administrators did not go into detail about the cause of the company’s collapse. However, the Guardian understands that PiggyBank’s financiers – most of whom were high net worth individuals – were not willing to put more funds into the company after the suspension was lifted in September.

It is not clear how much money customers who lodged compensation claims over issues including affordability will receive after the company is wound down.

PiggyBank offered loans of up to £1,000 to new customers for up to five months. A PiggyBank customer would pay an interest rate equal to an annual percentage rate (APR) of between 1,255% and 1,698%.

The company’s failure comes weeks after the UK’s largest payday lender, CashEuroNet, collapsed in October, taking its brands QuickQuid and On Stride off the market. Weeks later, another payday lender, 247MoneyBox, was put into administration.

The sector is still recovering from Wonga’s collapse last year. Most of the failures have been caused by a surge in compensation claims by customers who say they were mis-sold loans they could not afford.

The FCA imposed affordability checks and capped payday loan charges in 2014 to stop lenders charging more in fees and interest than the amount borrowed. The changes, designed to protect vulnerable consumers, reduced the lenders’ income and triggered a flurry of customer complaints.

Peter Tutton, the head of policy at the debt charity StepChange, said there had been a drop in the number of people struggling with payday loans debt after the spate of administrations. “While this reduction in harm is welcome, lower income households will still need access to safe, suitable and affordable credit from time to time.

“Whoever forms the next government needs a comprehensive strategy that provides greater access to affordable credit safety nets for the most financially vulnerable, including the full introduction of a no interest loan scheme.”

Jason Wassell, the chief executive of the payday loans industry body the Consumer Finance Association, also called on the next government to consider access to credit.

He said vulnerable customers could turn to less credible sources of credit, particularly over the holidays. “We are not necessarily suggesting this will lead to a rise in loan sharks, but we do suspect we will see an increase in unregulated borrowing, possibly from hard-pressed family members, and on occasion, it will be from individuals with links to criminality.”