Credit lender International Personal Finance (IPF) said it is delighted with the “excellent progress” it made in 2018.
The Leeds-based group said it delivered a “very strong” financial performance in the year to December 31 as pre-tax profits rose 16 per cent to £109m.
IPF provides unsecured consumer credit to more than 2.3 million customers across 11 markets, operating the world’s largest home credit business and a new fintech business, IPF Digital.
There was a 6 per cent increase in credit issued, driven by strong growth in Mexico where the group saw an 11 per cent increase in customer numbers to reach 917,000.
There was a 12 per cent increase in credit issued in Mexico following investment in geographic expansion and micro-business lending.
IPF’s chief executive Gerard Ryan said: “We’ve seen good top line growth in Mexico. We opened six new branches in 2018 and will open another five in the first half of 2019.”
IPF said its European home credit put in a performance although a challenging market landscape drove a 5 per cent decline in credit issued.
“The European market is intensely competitive and there have been a lot of regulation changes,” said Mr Ryan.
IPF Digital saw strong growth and a 35 per cent increase in credit issued. Digital is seeing good growth and profitability in established markets such as Finland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, as well as new markets such as Poland, Australia, Spain and Mexico.
The group is confident that its digital arm will deliver a maiden profit in 2019.
“Customers like the revolving credit line offered by IPF Digital. It’s like an overdraft facility. They don’t pay anything to have it and if they draw down 50 euros and pay it back in two days, they pay two days’ interest,” said Mr Ryan.
“You can be a new entrant in digital, but that doesn’t mean you will be successful. We have a leadership team that has been together for 15 years, with great products and very recognisable brands.”