Monday, 08 July 2019 10:16

NZ competition regulator takes online lender Moola to court

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NZ competition regulator takes online lender Moola to court Image Stuart Miles, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

New Zealand’s competition regulator, The Commerce Commission, is taking online money lender NZ Fintech — trading as Moola — to court alleging the company breached the lender responsibility principles in the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act.

Moola provides high cost short-term loans up to $5000 via the moola.co.nz and needcashtoday.co.nz websites.

The Commission’s action relate to Moola’s conduct between June 2015 and November 2017 when it is alleged that, during that period, Moola offered short term loans with interest rates of between 182.5% and 547.5% per annum depending on the term of the loan.

The Commission alleges that Moola failed to exercise the “care, diligence and skill of a responsible lender”, as required by the lender responsibility principles, and:

  • failed to make inquiries so as to be satisfied of the borrowers’ requirements and objectives;
  • failed to make inquiries so as to be satisfied of the borrowers’ ability to repay without substantial hardship;
  • failed to exercise care, diligence and skill in text and email advertising;
  • failed to treat borrowers reasonably and ethically when breaches of loan agreements occurred;
  • failed to ensure loan agreements were not oppressive, including interest rates; and
  • failed to ensure it did not induce borrowers to enter into agreements by oppressive means.

The Commission is seeking:

  • declarations that Moola’s conduct breached the CCCFA;
  • injunctive relief preventing Moola from new lending without taking specified steps to ensure it meets its legal obligations;
  • cost of borrowing to be returned to 50 identified borrowers;
  • orders for consequential relief as the Court thinks fit; and
  • interest and/or costs.

The Commission initiated its investigation following a referral from a Christchurch budget advisory service.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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