Exclusive by Angelique Ruzicka, editor, Justmoney
Kevin Hurwitz, CEO of Wonga.com South Africa, has admitted to Justmoney that he resigned from the business in June this year and that he is set to leave it full time this week. Justmoney approached the CEO for comment following an anonymous tip-off.
“It is true. I did resign back in June. Obviously there’s been a search for a replacement and that’s underway. It hasn’t been successful yet. I do leave full time this week but I will remain on a part time basis until such time as a replacement has been found,” said Hurwitz.
Reasons for leaving
Serial entrepreneur Hurwitz said he was leaving Wonga to look for ‘new opportunities’. “As you know I started Wonga in South Africa and built it up to quite a large business quite quickly and I actually personally prefer the small start-up phases. I want to hand it [Wonga] over to somebody and focus on my own opportunities,” he explained.
Impact on Wonga
Hurwitz believes the impact on the business would be minimal following his departure. “I have built up a fantastic team of individuals here - all who have been running this business have been doing so competently for a while. It’s important that a replacement is found but I don’t see any negative impact certainly in the short term,” he said.
The CEO of Wonga’s admission of resignation comes after Wonga’s competitor Bridge applied for business rescue and follows African Bank’s CEO and founder Leon Kirkinis' resignation last month. African Bank has since been placed under curatorship by the South African Reserve Bank (Sarb).
In July this year Wonga was slapped with a compliance notice by the National Credit Regulator (NCR) for breaching the National Credit Act. The crackdown by the South African regulator came after Wonga in the United Kingdom garnered much criticism for charging an annual interest rate of 5,853%, according to reports.
The NCR ordered Wonga to submit an audit report and remove adverse credit bureau listings from some of its customers' records at its own expense. Further, it was told to rescind judgements taken against clients from whom it had not obtained proof of income and living expenses.
Hurwitz said his resignation had nothing to do with the NCR’s notice or the trouble facing some businesses in the short term loan and unsecured credit space.
“I want to make it clear I resigned before African Bank and compliance related issues related to Wonga were issued. This is a 1,000 person company now and it’s totally a personal thing. Wonga is in a really strong position and it takes compliance very seriously and we have a good relationship with the regulator. The business is in great shape and honestly couldn’t be better,” he said.
He added: “From my perspective the timing is unfortunate but the reality is that I am handing it over to someone who is in better shape to maintain a business like this and it’s as simple as that.”
Hurwitz refused to comment further on how his departure would impact on the management or shareholder structure of the business. “I am not going to comment on that. It’s not a massive deal from our perspective as there will still be some involvement from me and also because there is a strong team here,” he said.