Payday lending or making payday loans is now a booming industry, and with life getting tougher for many people each and every day, it's only ever going to keep expanding.
At the same time, it's an often unregulated business, with 17 states of the USA in effect banning payday lending altogether due to the apparent lawlessness of the industry.
It's not that hard to see why there is such a problem. Although such payday loans are intended to be short term arrangements only, basically getting you through to your next pay check, unfortunately, for many people, that's not the way it actually works out. And with industry average interest rates around 470% APR, one has to ask, why is this industry growing so rapidly?
The answer is that it is providing a service that is required, at a price that the consumers can afford; the actual APR is of no great interest to the customer, because their only concern is "Can I afford to repay the loan on my next payday"?
Why do consumers use payday loans? The answer probably falls into two parts:
First, because it is a fast, convenient way of getting quick cash (and now that it can be done online, it's even easier) and, second, because they probably cannot get credit any other way.
For a borrower with a poor credit history payday loans offer a lifeline when it is most needed, to pay those unexpected bills or to prevent repossession of an item that has been bought on credit for example.
Problems only arise when clients are unable to repay loans (but surely this applies to all forms of credit?).
Nevertheless, it's undeniable that, with such astronomically high APR rates, it only takes a couple of missed payments for the initial small sum borrowed to become a major debt burden.
Take for example Ms. A's case. She took a loan of $500, with interest due on repayment of this sum two weeks later, of $125. Several missed payments down the road and the debt had ballooned to $3250, to repay a debt of only &500! How scary is that?
Of course, payday loans DO have a role to play in the day to day life of modern America and there are many industry insiders, from the more reputable lenders, who are pushing hard for the introduction of stricter regulations, regulations that could then be introduced across the nation, rather than on a state by state basis.
In this way, the consumer will know exactly where they stand in terms of the laws relating to payday lending, and it will be in the interests of the more reputable lenders to expand across the nation as well. This ensures that everyone has access to their services, thus removing them from the potential clutches of some of the less ethical money lenders.
As Jeann Ann Fox of the Consumer Federation of America puts it, the present system means that "Payday lending is the poster child for predatory small loans that take advantage of consumers who have trouble making ends meet".
A standardization of payday lending regulations and laws across the country should go a long way to making such a gloomy prognosis redundant in the future.