The folks who run borro Ltd. don't call their company a pawnbroker. That word carries a stigma, bringing to mind low-income customers inside gloomy storefronts with bars on their windows.

Instead, the firm touts itself as an online personal asset lender, whose wealthy customers have expensive tastes and a need for short-term cash. Founder Paul Aitken says that the items his company takes as security against its loans include rare art, bottles of fine wine and luxury cars.

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