The first payday loans shop especially for children has opened in London.
Pocket Money Loans offers youngsters advance loans on their pocket money at rates as low as 5000% APR and hopes to attract young people from across the capital to take advantage of their wide range of credit products.
Predictably, the blind outrage has already begun…
Relax guys, this is satire at it’s finest, by the hand of artist Darren Cullen.
The shop is an exhibition designed to draw attention to the way the consumer credit industry preys on the vulnerable and targets children with marketing.
The project’s aim, Cullen says, is to “take our consumer debt culture to its logical conclusion.”
He added: “Almost all payday loan companies have cartoon mascots, animated characters or sing-along jingles in their adverts.
“Their high street shops often have play areas full of toys and some of them hand out balloons and sweets to kids at the counter.
“It’s a clear fact they target children, as both a means of persuading their parents, but also as a way to groom the next generation of indebted customers.”
The ‘outrage’ has not been limited to online. Visitors to the shop have been similarly incensed.
Cullen told Huffington Post UK: “Most of the people who come in just want to be reassured that it's not real, but one guy left believing it was real even after I told him it wasn't, shaking his head at me.
“He asked me if it wasn't immoral to give loans to kids, I said ‘Yeah absolutely’. He asked me if I could even force children to repay their loans and I said well we'd have their address, but they could always run away from home.
“Before he left I tried to tell him it was an art project but he wasn't having any of it.”
Making the point that financial deregulation has led to the poor being sucked dry by “vulture-like” lenders, Cullen says he is most disturbed by advertising directed at children.
He said: “Marketers are putting kids in MRI scanners and showing them adverts to see which areas of the brain light up to certain words, colours or shapes. There is a giant industry of incredibly smart psychologists and advertisers who are using every advance of modern science to make your child feel like they need and love certain products and brands.”
Of his disgruntled ‘customers’, Cullen said: “They’re appalled that a company is targeting kids for loans, and so am I, but the worst thing about it is I'm not the only one doing it.
“Oakam Loans, Speedy Cash, Wonga, ToothFairy Finance et al all target children with their advertising.”
The shop will remain open until 8 November and houses art prints deriding cash-for-gold pawn shops (Tooth Fairy – Healthy Teeth Bought For £££s) and an advert for Nivea Pro-Aging Cream (Dramatically Reduces the Appearance Of Childhood).
With a website boasting slogans like ‘Get out of debt with a loan’ and ‘Live life, spend each day like it’s your last’, Cullen is taking no prisoners.
He said: “Payday loan customers who repay on time are in the minority and they offer the smallest profit margin to the company.
“It’s the people who can’t afford to repay on time who rack up charges and compound interest over weeks or months. That’s where the real profits lie, built upon the backs of the poorest, most vulnerable members of society.”
Pocket Money Loans is located at the Atom Gallery, 77 Stroud Green Road, N4 3EG.
Check out more of Cullen's work here.