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Quick cash-by-text deals slammed for sending Swedes into debt

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Cash-hungry people can already apply for loans in the High Street, online or over the telephone, but the addition of text messaging services to the list of lenders is now being blamed for pushing hordes of Swedes into the red.

Around 30 companies in Sweden now offer short-term loans that can be easily applied for and granted by text message, Agence France Presse reports. But since such services were first offered, in 2006, at least one local debt recovery firm has had to approach around 20,000 defaulters.

Almost 40 per cent the customers caught short by the ability to call up cash are aged between 18 and 25.

The technology allows the cash-strapped to see up to €300 (£250/$500) beamed directly into their bank accounts within 15 minutes of asking for it by text. Repayment terms can be tough, it's said, and some lenders demand payback of the loan, in addition to fees and interest, within 30 days.

A spokesman for Mobillaan Sverige, which was the first company to offer loans by text in Sweden, said the service was very popular and claims that they are sending Swedes into debt spirals was exaggerated.

Mobillaan, he claimed, checks credit histories before agreeing loans. He blamed the country's financial regulators for not getting to grips with the concept quickly enough, in the process allowing less scrupulous lenders to offer easy money to people who shouldn't receive it.

"[Loans-by-text's] huge success caught the authorities by surprise," he said. "They did not know how to handle it."

Register Hardware doesn't know of any loan-by-text services operating in the UK, but its not hard to imagine many credit-crunched Brits plunging even further into debt if such services spring up.

Numerous texting services have already 'transformed' our lives, such as the ability to order a takeaway with an SMS or find the nearest public toilet. But is texting for a loan tech gone too far? Register Hardware wants to know your thoughts, so text us on...

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