Federal financial watchdog rolls back payday lending regulations

The nation’s federal financial watchdog today announced plans to roll back most of its consumer protections governing payday lenders.

The move is a major win for the payday lending industry, which argued the government’s regulations could kill off a large chunk of its business. It’s also a big loss for consumer groups, who say payday lenders exploit the poor and disadvantaged.

This is also the first rollback of regulations under the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s new director, Kathy Kraninger, who took over the bureau late last year.

The cornerstone of the regulations was a rule that forced lenders to make sure borrowers could afford to repay a payday loan without being stuck in a cycle of debt. This standard would be repealed under the new rules.

Critics of the payday lending industry have argued that without these underwriting standards, the CFPB’s new regulations are effectively toothless. The main criticism of the payday lending industry was that many borrowers would take months to repay a loan that was originally designed only to last a couple of weeks.

The proposed changes are almost certain to face legal challenges, since the bureau is taking a radical departure from its previous position. Read the full story.

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