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Online cash advances Even if you’ve never been a customer of a online cash advance business, you’ve likely seen or heard about the product. You probably also know that online cash advance businesses are fairly easy to find in both the brick-and-mortar world and in cyberspace. With such a proliferation, it seems obvious that there is a demand for such consumer loans. Yet for a product that millions of consumers use each year, it’s interesting that the entirely legal online cash advance industry has been affixed with such a negative reputation. Throwing Stones The most common allegation levied against the payday lending industry is that it constitutes predatory lending, exploiting helpless consumers with high rates and other loan shark tactics. On their behalf, those who offer online cash advances assert that the rates charged are appropriate to protect against risk, yet much less damaging than what consumers can encounter in fees if they don’t pay their bills or have their utilities shut off. Unfortunately, there is relatively little objective analysis that looks beyond the rhetoric of both sides of the payday lending issue. Critics adopt what they consider to be a moral high ground where they use “online cash advances” and “usury” in the same sentence, while lenders defend their practice by illustrating that customers are made aware of costs before a contract is signed and by claiming that current rates are necessary in light of operating costs. Let’s Take a Balanced Look at the Stats, Shall We? That’s exactly what Aaron Gold does in his New York University honors thesis “Payday Lending: Grounding the Policy Debate Through Economic Analysis.” His study compares some key metrics between payday lenders (five of the largest chains, representing 25 percent of U.S. stores) and a sampling of “traditional” lenders such as banks and credit unions. In a nutshell, Gold finds that high operating expense does seem to justify the cost of online cash advances. While data supports the notion thatpayday lenders are more profitable than traditional lenders, their profits in relation to their “break even” point aren’t as outrageous as overheated critics claim. The Social Forces behind Payday Lending While people from all walks of life have had the occasion to use online cash advance services, averages definitely point in the direction of an upper-middle to lower class demographic. Gold cites the M.S. Barr article “Banking the Poor” in the Yale Journal on Regulation. Barr suggests that an increasing number of Americans are “under-banked” (Barr, 2004, p. 2). “Real or perceived costs and fees of maintaining traditional banking services,” suggests Barr, are simply too much of a hurdle for scores of people to clear. Considering the shenanigans of financial institutions that steered America toward the current recession, such skepticism is no surprise. Douglas McGray writes in an article entitled “Check Cashers, Redeemed” that lower income consumers and (anecdotally) some segments of immigrant communities tend to disdain the system of traditional banking and credit. Furthermore, he alludes to public relations efforts made by payday lenders in their communities (such as employing local, multi-lingual people). Thus, online cash advance stores serve as comfortable, convenient one-stop shopping for those in need ofquick cash during an emergency. Get your online cash advance now
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