Bank of Ireland come in for criticism on new “FOMO” loan scheme

By Hayley Halpin

The DCU branch of Bank of Ireland have come in for criticism following the launch of their FOMO (fear of missing out) deal, which offers students a €100 interest free loan.

The campaign, which was launched at the DCU branch on February 6th, was received with heavy criticism from DCU staff and has since been postponed.

Bank of Ireland sent an email to the DCU undergraduate, postgraduate and staff mailing lists, outlining what the loan deal entailed, on February 3rd.

The email read: “FOMO is the free €100 loan for students, which is exclusively on trial here in our DCU branch. This is an offer for students to sign up for free, simply text FOMO and get up to €100 free loan into their accounts so that they don’t miss out on some of the biggest events on campus.

“The catch? There is none really. Students have up to 6 weeks to repay this loan interest fee. Miss the 6 week deadline and you will face a loan repayment charge of €12.”

Students’ Union president Dylan Kehoe monitors the undergraduate mailing list and prevented this email from going forward to the list. However, he does not monitor the postgraduate list and said students received the email.

A promotional team launched the deal outside the branch on February 3rd.

Numerous DCU lecturers began to reply to the email with criticism of the deal, expressing concern over the ease of access to the loan.

Professor Anthony Staines wrote: “My take is that this marketing campaign is specifically encouraging students to borrow money to fund their social lives. I can see the benefits for the bank, but I am at a loss to see the benefits for students.”

Staines later reaffirmed his stance while speaking to The College View: “When I saw the letter that the bank sent out, I thought it was just sending completely the wrong message. Borrow money, that’s fine but you don’t borrow money to go to a party. That’s just stupid.”

Another DCU lecturer who wishes to remain anonymous wrote about similar cases she saw in Spain.

“There were a lot of TV advertisements done by moneylender or pawnbroker companies in a way that seemed a great deal in terms of lending you money in less that 24 hours … A lot of desperate people in Spain have lost everything (their homes, etc.) because of these moneylenders,” she said.

Two further promotional launch dates which were due to take place on Tuesday, February 7th and Thursday, February 9th, were subsequently postponed.

The DCU branch manager was “not in a position to comment on the matter”.

When asked by The College View to provide a statement, Naomi Keating of Bank of Ireland Group Communications wrote:

“A mobile technology trial run by Bank of Ireland with customers in DCU featured a non-interest bearing loan with a maximum draw-down limit of €100. There are no fees or charges for using the service and no late repayment charges, and the trial does not affect a customer’s credit rating.”

“We are not currently processing registrations,” she said.

They would not clarify why the bank is no longer processing registrations, stating that they “have nothing further to add to the statement.”

It has not been announced whether the FOMO deal will be re-launched.

Hayley Halpin

Image: Darragh Culhane