U.S. banks eager for a larger share of the payday lending market are pushing for measures that would allow them to issue more of the short-term, high-interest loans.
The American Bankers Association and the Consumer Bankers Association pitched several steps to U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that would allow banks to offer payday loans more easily, The Wall Street Journal reports. The trade groups say they want a significant part of the 2013 rules that forced them out of the market to be scrapped, and they do not want the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to initiate the restrictive new rules on payday lending that it proposed last year. (See also: How New Bank Rules will Buoy Bank Stocks.)
“We feel very strongly that we want to serve all our customer segments,” said Mark Erhart, senior vice president of retail product management for Fifth Third Bancorp.
Payday loans are often viewed as predatory in that they demand a high fee for loans usually made to consumers living on a paycheck-to-paycheck basis. Nearly 12 million Americans take out payday loans each year and spend about $9 billion in fees, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts data. The average payday lender is in debt for five months of the year, and they spend $520 on average in fees to borrow $375.
Large banks like Fifth Third, Wells Fargo & Co., Regions Financial Corp. and U.S. Bancorp say they can find profitability in offering payday loans, also called deposit advance loans, more affordably to consumers if they can do it on a large scale. Other banks argue the loans are costly because they are issued in small amounts. (See also: A Split Outlook for Bank ETFs.)
“The biggest hurdle to community banks making more small-dollar loans is cost,” Joseph Gormley, assistant vice president with Independent Community Bankers of America, told the Journal. “More or less, it costs them the same amount to make a $500 loan as it does a $20,000 loan.”