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February 18, 2013

In most banking contexts, bait-and-switch tricks involve a last-minute surprise that increases the cost of borrowing. But in a development that turns bait-and-switch on its head, this year some chains are advertising the availability of loans that they will not always offer.

Following a successful effort by the FDIC to eliminate bank refund anticipation loan origination, some of the national preparers have come out with replacements to the traditional refund anticipation loan. It is no accident that in each case, the money

February 15, 2013

Some short notes on how payday lending is coming back to North Carolina, the odd case of the low price for shares in Western Union, White River Capital completes it sale, and highlights from NetSpend's investor call:

payday in NC could be back: In a reversal of a trend across the country where

February 12, 2013

It is rare to observe a dialogue that centers on savings for the poor where no one discounts the possibility that it can happen.

Paraphrasing, the skepticism goes something like this: "Poor people do not save

February 11, 2013

Although many prepaid cards come with very attractive rates of interest on savings sub-accounts, the model has never found traction with consumers.

Executives in prepaid firms characterize their consumers as "aspirational" savers: they want to do it, but they struggle to realize those goals. A few years ago, the CEO at a large prepaid program manager told me that his company tracked the savings habits of their customers. On average, he said, their sub-account holders only managed to set aside $78 a year. Sometimes averages are very misleading, of course, and if I had a chance to explore

February 7, 2013

SoFi, a young fintech firm in California, has a new idea that addresses an old problem: short of a student loan consolidation that stretches out payments for years into the future, the prospects for refinancing school debt are fairly limited. Moreover, those

February 5, 2013

The unfortunate - at least for their practitioners or for their investors - part about making high cost short-term payday loans is that it is ultimately not very profitable.

Most people probably imagine that you could earn more profit by charging

February 1, 2013

A startup in public beta known as "Float" may have found a way to make a decent return on a line of credit product at a price that is essentially free to consumers.

Shane Hadden, Float's CEO, says that his product can generate an attractive

January 29, 2013

Here is what we know: This year, a Liberty Tax customer with a very basic return who elects to receive a portion of their refund via an Instant Cash Advance will pay at least $200 before they walk out of the door. As well, Liberty

January 25, 2013

A private company from Springfield, Missouri has announced intentions to create a new RAL alternative known as the Simple Cash Option which will allow consumers to sell at least part of their

January 22, 2013

This year, Instant Tax Service stores have free refund anticipation loans.

Do you believe that? Let me know if you do. As they say, there is a bridge in Brooklyn...

I have called more than a few Instant Tax stores. Everywhere I go, I get the same answer.