LONDON (7/2913)--Calling them a "financial cancer," the Archbishop of Canterbury has declared war on payday lenders in the United Kingdom by creating a credit union for clergy and members of the Church of England and Church of Scotland. The result: a media frenzy of bad publicity for payday lenders and good publicity for credit unions.
The coverage didn't quite rival the media hullabaloo over the birth earlier in the week of Prince George, but on Friday News Now counted 35 articles and broadcasts about the battle of (Archbishop Justin) Welby vs. Wonga, Britain's major payday lender.
Most mentioned the credit union he formed earlier this month. Articles ran in the BBC, The Telegraph, Yahoo! News, Financial Times, The Independent, The Scottish Sun, Oman Tribune, and Fiji Times, among others. The BBC's item was headlined, "What are credit unions and how can you use them" (July 26).
The church's move has raised awareness about the benefits of credit unions, said the Association of British Credit Union Leagues (ABCUL) Friday, in welcoming the archbishop's support.
"The wide community reach of the organization and the skills within its congregations mean it is one of many groups that can help raise awareness of the benefits of credit unions and help them to grow," said ABCUL CEO Mark Lyonette (ccrmagazine.com July 26).
He added ABCUL will be "talking to the Church of England about how this can be achieved. People in their congregations and communities of all incomes will benefit from the great value services credit unions provide. And the more people who use credit unions, the more successful they will be."
Meanwhile, the CEO of payday lender Wonga said he welcomed the competition. He made the comment after Welby told him that the Church of England would help credit unions force the firm out of business (BBC July26).