Payday lenders thriving despite regulatory climate

Storefront of a payday loan lender

Payday loan lenders are continuing to thrive despite economic conditions. Photo Credit: diaper/Flickr.com/CC-BY

Despite an increasingly hostile regulatory climate, payday lenders are finding ways to thrive. Payday loan legislation is constantly changing as states waffle on banning or allowing the credit product, but the largest firms are still doing well. Overseas expansion and increasingly diverse product offerings are helping publicly traded payday loan businesses to grow.

Largest payday loan companies expanding overseas

Payday loan lenders are often maligned as hyenas that pounce on the poor, but the characterization has not kept the largest payday lending outfits from expanding and posting profits in rougher economic times. Cash America, EZCORP and Dollar Financial Group all posted profitable first quarters for the year, according to Reuters, and have managed to keep growing despite gloom among American consumers and an already harsh regulatory climate. All three are among the largest alternative financial service firms and are publicly traded. Cash America posted a 13 percent increase in revenues, helped by international online short term loans that the company offers to customers in the U.K., Canada and Australia. Dollar Financial Group posted a 21 percent rise in revenues that came mostly from online lending, and EZCORP shares rose by 6 percent. All three are expanding overseas operations.

Regulation battles continue

The regulatory climate for payday lenders constantly changes. Numerous states constantly are trying to either loosen or tighten restrictions. For instance, the New Hampshire House of Representatives recently killed a bill that would have allowed lenders to start operating in New Hampshire, where the loans are currently prohibited, according to the New Hampshire Business Review. The California legislature is currently considering a bill to raise the borrowing cap on payday loans, according to the Silicon Valley Mercury News, amid a lot of controversy and accusations that politicians are being bribed by lobbyists. The state of Missouri, according to the Columbia Daily Tribune, recently killed a bill that would have tightened restrictions.

The future of subprime credit

Any form of credit carries risk for the borrower, including credit cards and mortgages. However, many people want to see payday loans legislated off the face of the earth. It isn’t likely to happen; forms of short term credit have existed since the beginning of civilization, and as long as there are unexpected expenses, there will be a need for something similar to payday loans.

Sources

Reuters on Cash America, Dollar Financial, and EZCORP

New Hampshire Business Review

Columbia Daily Tribune

Silicon Valley Mercury News



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