“We will be asking the Assets Committee of the Church Commissioners to investigate how this has occurred and to review the holding in this pooled investment vehicle.”
The reported investment is only a small fraction of the £5billion of assets available to the church.
Lambeth Palace added: “We will also be requesting the Church Commissions to investigate whether there are any other inconsistencies as normally all investment policies are reviewed by the Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG).”
The Archbishop said he has personally told Wonga chief executive Errol Damelin: “We’re not in the business of trying to legislate you out of existence, we’re trying to compete you out of existence.”
The entire payday lending industry, worth £2 billion, was last month referred for a full-blown investigation by the Competition Commission after the trading watchdog uncovered “deep-rooted” problems.
The Archbishop, who has served on the parliamentary Banking Standards Commission, has said he plans to expand the reach of credit unions as part of a long-term campaign to boost competition in the banking sector.
The Church of England is already setting up a credit union for its own staff. But it wants to use the 16,000 churches in 9,000 communities to extend the service.
The Archbishop was backed today by Business Secretary Vince Cable, who said the Government was looking at better regulation of the industry as well as a bar on advertising high interest loans to people who can ill-afford to pay them back.
Wonga said in March that it welcomed any attempt to encourage responsible lending and that it has been “instrumental” in helping to raise industry standards.
Errol Damelin, founder of Wonga who met Mr Welby recently, said: “The Archbishop is clearly an exceptional individual and someone who understands the power of innovation.
“We discussed the future of banking and financial services, as well as our emerging digital society.
“There is mutual respect, some differing opinions and a meeting of minds on many big issues.
“On the competition point, we always welcome fresh approaches that give people a fuller set of alternatives to solve their financial challenges. I’m all for better consumer choice.”