Ability to Repay for Payday Loans: Damned If You Do, Damned If You Do Not

by Brian Riley 0

Four years ago, while researching the Payday Loan business,  I went to a local lender, and borrowed $100 to test the process and go through the customer experience.  It was not as ugly as you may think.  The lender was in a shopping mall, running the business out of a failed Hardee’s that had been converted to a branch office.  The two-week loan cost $10 plus a $1 fee to the state of Florida who administers a program to ensure that you can only have one loan outstanding at the time.

Painless and quick.  With a paystub in hand a blank check,  I got my only Payday loan.  Interest was off the charts, $10 on $100 for two weeks is over 200%, but in my case, where I said I need the money for auto repair, I was out in less than 10 minutes.

The Payday industry is undergoing persistent scrutiny, not because of people like me, but rather those that keep renewing their loans because they cant pay the principal.  CFPB takes a selective, albeit cautious view of the industry and whom it chooses to regulate.

  • On its face, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) payday loan rule does not seem to be an issue for anyone but, well, payday lenders.
  • The final rule, which was issued in October last year, carved out the three largest constituencies that would have opposed such a regulation: community banks, credit unions, and longer-term installment lenders.

It will be interesting to watch.

  • As a result, there has been sparse industry resistance to the rule. Recognized financial institutions that hold great sway on Capitol Hill have barely raised a finger.
  • Some simply don’t want to defend payday industry, who are unfairly labeled as “predatory lenders.” Others may even be opposed to the competition that payday lenders bring against their own business.

The bigger deal behind the Payday Lending business is the Ability to Repay Rule (ATR), which will not be forced on some financial institution but will be against these specialized firms.

The fact that federally insured institutions were not included is an underlying issue that might be indicative of the new, more bank-friendly, CFPB.

Overview by Brian Riley, Director, Credit Advisory Service at Mercator Advisory Group

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