ASIC consults on proposal to intervene to stop consumer harm in short term credit

ASIC has released a consultation paper (CP 316) on the first proposed use of its new product intervention power. On this inaugural occasion, ASIC is looking to address significant consumer detriment in the short term credit industry.

The product intervention power allows ASIC to intervene where financial and credit products have resulted in or are likely to result in, significant consumer detriment. The new product intervention power is an important addition to ASIC’s regulatory toolkit. It reinforces ASIC’s ability to directly confront, and respond to, harms in the financial sector.

ASIC considers that significant consumer detriment may arise in relation to a particular model designed to provide short term credit at high cost to vulnerable consumers. These consumers include those on low incomes or in financial difficulty.

In its first proposed deployment of this power, ASIC is targeting a model involving a short term credit provider and its associate who charge fees under separate contracts. When combined, these fees can add up to around 990% of the loan amount.

While ASIC is presently aware of two firms currently using this model – Cigno Pty Ltd and Gold-Silver Standard Finance Pty Ltd – the proposed product intervention order would apply to any firm using this type of business model.

Announcing the consultation ASIC Commissioner Sean Hughes said, ‘Sadly we have already seen too many examples of significant harm affecting particularly vulnerable members of our community through the use of this short term lending model. Consumers and their representatives have brought many instances of the impacts of this type of lending model to us. Given we only recently received this additional power, then it is both timely and vital that we consult on our use of this tool to protect consumers from significant harms which arise from this type of product.’

‘Before we exercise our powers, we must consult with affected and interested parties. This is an opportunity for us to receive comments and further information, including details of any other firms providing similar products, before we make a decision’.

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