Latitude Financial is a prominent lender in Australia with a long history specialising in consumer credit, personal loans and insurance. Latitude Financial has been in the news recently because its owners have been trying unsuccessfully to float the company on the Australian share market. Latitude also recently launched a Buy Now, Pay Later app called LatitudePay which the company hopes will become a major competitor to Afterpay and Zip. One piece of news about Latitude that you may have missed is the fact that it is now the third biggest personal loan lender in Australia, bigger than two of the big banks. Is Latitude Financial a bank? Latitude Financial is definitely not a bank but it does provide loans, credit cards, store credit a and a Buy Now Pay Later app called LatitudePay. “We're not a bank, and we're proud of that.” “We're not a bank, and we're proud of that,” says Latitude’s corporate information page but they do compete with the banks in the consumer credit market. Latitude Pay was formerly known as GE Money and for many years provided credit at Harvey Norman outlets and other retailers. Now Latitude has 2.6 million customer accounts with 1900 merchant partners (like Harvey Norman shops) in Australia and New Zealand. “The ways people think about payments and money is changing,” says Latitude, “we are part of that new wave.” “We want to open up the world of shopping and digital payments.” Perhaps Latitude’s new Buy Now Pay later product helps place it in the ‘new wave’ of financial institutions but Latitude has been around for a long time. In fact, Latitude is Australia’s oldest national finance company according to Wikipedia. Founded in Sydney in 1921 as Australian Guarantee Company specialising in shop finance for household goods, it became AGC in 1925 and added car loans to its product offerings under the brand name TPC. AGC’s funding came from deposits known as debentures which offer good interest rates to public investors. In 1957, Westpac (then known as Bank of New South Wales) bought 40 per cent of AGC and eventually acquired 100 per cent of AGC in 1988. By the 1970s, AGC boasted 3,000 staff, more than 100 branches and had added corporate financing. AGC moved into property lending as well and this led to substantial losses and a funding crisis. Westpac supported a restructure and by the mid-1990s AGC was again profitably focussed on consumer finance. In 2002 GE Capital purchased AGC from Westpac and renamed the company GE Money. GE Money was sold in 2015 to a group of private equity investors including Deutsche Bank, KKR and Varde Partners and rebranded to Latitude Financial. Today, in 2019, Latitude Financial is the third largest personal loan lender in Australia, behind just the Commonwealth Bank and Westpac. In mid-2019 Latitude had grown its share of new personal loan sales to 13 per cent, from 8 per cent in 2017 . The company celebrated in August 2019 by dropping the interest rate on its secured low rate personal loan to under 9.99 per cent pa (comparison rate 11.22 per cent pa). “While many lenders are pulling back, Latitude is open for business,” said chief executive officer Ahmed Fahour in August. [Latitude CEO Ahmed Fahour (right) with Harvey Norman’s Gerry Harvey and Katie Page] “It is pleasing to see consumers across Australia and New Zealand reacting so positively to Latitude’s products and services, with our Net Promotor Score (NPS) reaching an all-time high of +45 and becoming the third largest lender of new personal loans in Australia, up from fifth place last year.” Is Latitude Financial a good lender? Latitude specialises in consumer finance and is particularly associated with the Harvey Norman chain. However Latitude is growing its presence in the credit card and personal loan markets and branching out into Buy Now Pay Later with a new app called LatitudePay. Latitude Financial is regulated as a non-bank lender and is required to comply with responsible lending laws. Borrowers who experience financial hardship are entitled to ask for assistance from their lender. Latitude customers in financial difficulty or hardship can ask Latitude for assistance. What are Latitude’s personal loan rates? Latitude Financial’s personal loan rates are very competitive. The low rate unsecured loan for less than 10 per cent pa (Latitude’s personal loan rates (secured and unsecured) are set according to your credit rating. Latitude Low Rate Mastercard goes under ten per cent Latitude Financial has five credit card products and a CreditLine Eftpos card available through Apple stores. The Latitude Low Rate Mastercard purchase interest rate has recently been cut to 9.89 per cent pa, making it one of the market leaders in the low-rate credit card market. This card has an annual fee of $69, cash advance rate of 18.89 per cent pa and up to 55 days interest free. You can compare credit cards from Latitude and other Australian credit cards issuers at InfoChoice. The information contained on this web site is general in nature and does not take into account your personal situation. You should consider whether the information is appropriate to your needs, and where appropriate, seek professional advice from a financial adviser. If you or someone you know is in financial stress, contact the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007.