-Southwest Public Policy Institute Investigation Plainly Refutes False Claims that Credit Unions’ Small Dollar Loan Products Will Meet the Needs of Most Consumers-
ARLINGTON, Va. (June 20, 2023)—Responding to a new report released by the Southwest Public Policy Institute (SPPI) earlier this week (No Loan for You, Too! The Unintended Consequences of Price Controls on Consumer Access to Credit), Online Lenders Alliance Executive Director Andrew Duke released the following statement:
“Consumer activists routinely pretend that banks and credit unions are fulfilling consumers’ credit needs by offering new or expanded small dollar loan products, even though these products are largely unavailable for the majority of consumers who need them. This new report by the Southwest Public Policy Institute is another stark example of what happens to consumers if the credit access they rely upon or prefer is eliminated through rate caps and other legislative or regulatory provisions.
“Whether a highly well-qualified borrower or a college student without an established credit file, all of the individuals attempting to get a loan from the banks and credit unions in this investigation largely struck out. Borrowers who cannot access small-dollar lending products, even from the banks and credit unions that offer them, need and deserve other options, and policymakers should not eliminate those options from the marketplace.”
The latest Southwest Public Policy Institute study comes after it released another study in March (No Loan for You! How the War on Specialized Emergency Loans has Hurt New Mexicans) that detailed the attempts of SPPI’s Patrick Brenner to obtain a loan from the three national banks in New Mexico offering short-term, small-dollar loan products. Despite being highly creditworthy, Brenner was denied every time. This refutes repeated claims by consumer activists that routinely cite the expansion of accessible small-dollar loan products by banks and credit unions as sufficiently meeting consumers’ needs.
Furthermore, results from a recent OLA survey of 100,000 borrowers found that nearly 30 percent of respondents primarily bank with one of the six large banks offering small dollar credit products, yet still bypassed the bank product to seek credit from alternative lenders.
The latest SPPI report expands on the first study by including a number of credit unions that rejected Brenner and others from obtaining small-dollar credit. Consequently, it refutes the claims made by New Mexico credit unions during the debate over the state’s recently-enacted law capping interest rates at 36 percent. As reported in the Santa Fe New Mexican, Juan Fernández, president and CEO of the Credit Union Association of New Mexico, “told legislators credit unions can and are making emergency loans at no more than 28 percent interest.” But the research from the Southwest Public Policy Institute shows that credit unions are not making these loans available for most borrowers.
“New Mexico’s rate cap was passed with an illusory promise that New Mexico credit unions would pick up the slack for those who lost access to credit,” Duke said. “But these same credit unions tried to torpedo the bill when it required them to actually report on their results. We applaud the Southwest Public Policy Institute for this research, which exposes the credit unions’ empty promises.”
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About The Online Lenders Alliance
The Online Lenders Alliance (OLA) is the first trade association in FinTech. OLA is focused on credit inclusion, bringing together a diverse group of innovative companies who share a common goal: to serve hardworking Americans who deserve access to trustworthy credit. Our members are entrepreneurs, publicly-traded companies, lenders, credit bureaus, advertisers, lead generators, compliance professionals, and software developers who are leveraging technology to responsibly improve consumers’ financial health. Consumer protection is our top priority and OLA members abide by a rigorous set of Best Practices to ensure consumers are fully informed and fairly treated. For more information, please visit www.onlinelendersalliance.org.