* Haste pledges change at Britain's biggest payday lender
* Wonga was fined $4.4 million by regulator last month
(Adds further details)
LONDON, July 14 Former RSA Insurance Group
Chief Executive Andy Haste was on Monday appointed
chairman of Wonga, tasked with pushing through changes at
Britain's biggest payday lender which has come under fire for
its treatment of customers.
Wonga and other short-term lenders have come under
increasing scrutiny from politicians, regulators and even the
Church of England over their high levels of interest rates,
which can cause hardship for customers.
Wonga was ordered to pay 2.6 million pounds ($4.4 million)
in compensation to 45,000 customers last month after sending
them bogus letters from non-existent law firms that threatened
U.S. payday lender Dollar Financial, which trades in Britain
as The Money Shop, on Monday agreed to refund 700,000 pounds in
interest and default charges to customers who were loaned too
Haste, who led RSA for eight years until 2011 and is senior
independent director at ITV, said the payday loan
industry was going through significant change and that Wonga
"will change with it in order to have a sustainable future."
"My challenge is to lead that process of change at Wonga to
ensure that the business operates responsibly while providing an
effective and reliable service for our customers," he said.
The company's former chief executive, Niall Wass, quit in
May, seven months after taking on the role from the Errol
Damelin. Damelin, who co-founded the firm in 2006, quit as
chairman of the company in June.
Wonga is currently charging an annual interest rate of 5,853
percent, according to its website. Wonga says that its loans are
not meant to be taken out for that long so customers would not,
in practice, pay that level of interest.
Britain's Financial Conduct Authority, which took over
regulation of the sector in April, is considering imposing a cap
on the levels of interest payday lenders can charge.
($1 = 0.5877 British Pounds)
(Reporting by Steve Slater; Editing by Matt Scuffham and Pravin