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Free Loan-Repayment Processing Helps Microfinance Nonprofit Grameen America Increase Macro Impact on Women

SUNNYVALE, CA and LOS ANGELES, CA–(Marketwired – March 04, 2015) – Grameen America, a nonprofit microfinance organization that helps women in poverty start and expand small businesses, and PayNearMe, the electronic cash transaction network, today announced implementation of PayNearMe as a free new loan repayment option for Grameen America’s borrowers.

After a successful launch in Charlotte, North Carolina, the organization will now roll out the electronic cash transaction network in branches across the country beginning with Oakland, California and Brooklyn, New York.

Many of Grameen’s 43,000 members use their loans to start sole-proprietor businesses such as jewelry resale and nail design, which allows them to support their families while also giving them a flexible schedule to take care of their children. The majority of these businesses operate in cash. Using PayNearMe, borrowers are able to repay their loans using cash at their local 7-Eleven store.

“This innovative partnership is a remarkable advancement for our program that benefits our borrowers and staff alike,” said Andrea Jung, Grameen America’s president and CEO. “PayNearMe has made the payment collection process easier and more efficient. PayNearMe’s cutting-edge technology allows us to expand opportunities and extend access to financial services to thousands of aspiring entrepreneurs from New York to California.”

By eliminating the need to count, collect and deposit cash repayments, Grameen staff gain 40 minutes each day that they can spend with borrowers, providing financial education and facilitating problem-solving for the borrowers’ businesses. Using PayNearMe streamlines Grameen’s accounting processes while enhancing financial controls and efficiencies, which will allow the organization to build capacity to reach 150,000 women by 2018.

“We no longer stress about the amount of cash we are carrying to the bank, and the borrowers feel safer not having to congregate in one place every week with large chunks of cash,” said Ursula Lalone, Grameen’s Charlotte, North Carolina center manager. “With PayNearMe, we don’t have to count and collect cash. It’s a huge advantage to focus our meetings on helping the women invest, save and grow their businesses.”

Most of the 7,800 participating 7-Eleven stores nationwide are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, making it easy and convenient for borrowers with even the most complex schedules to stay on top of their loan repayments.

To make a payment, a borrower simply walks into the 7-Eleven, hands the cashier their PayNearMe payment code and the cash payment. Additionally, if they choose to pick up some groceries while they are in the store, they can pay for everything in one easy transaction.

“Grameen America is living proof that the term ‘micro’ is relative,” said Danny Shader, PayNearMe’s founder and CEO. “A microloan to one person can make a macro impact on another. We’re proud to support Grameen’s work by offering this payment option at no cost to the borrowers. Everyone should have a right to pay the way they are paid, without having to jump through hoops.”

About PayNearMe
PayNearMe is the electronic cash transaction network that enables consumers to pay rent and utility bills, repay loans, buy tickets, make online purchases and do much more with cash. Consumers can conveniently make payments on their own schedule and in their own neighborhood in less than a minute at one of over 17,000 trusted locations, including 7-Eleven® and Family Dollar® stores across the United States. For more information, please visit: http://www.PayNearMe.com.

About Grameen America
Founded by Nobel Peace Prize recipient Muhammad Yunus, Grameen America is a 501(c)3 nonprofit microfinance organization dedicated to helping women who live in poverty build small businesses to create better lives for their families. Grameen America offers microloans, training and support to transform communities and fight poverty in the United States. Since opening in January 2008, Grameen America has invested over $230 million in more than 43,000 women. Started in Jackson Heights, Queens, Grameen America has expanded across New York City and in Indianapolis, IN, Omaha, NE, Oakland, CA, Charlotte, NC, Los Angeles, CA, San Jose, CA, Austin, TX, Union City, NJ, San Juan, PR and Boston, MA. Learn more at www.grameenamerica.org.

Image Available: http://www.marketwire.com/library/MwGo/2015/3/4/11G034841/Images/Grameen_Open_Sign-757360835081.jpg

[…]

Jason M. Ruedy, The Home Loan Arranger, Analyzes the Baby Boomer Generation's Impact on the Housing Market

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Jason. M Ruedy

Denver, Colorado (PRWEB) June 24, 2014

Mortgage lender,Jason M. Ruedy, also known as The Home Loan Arranger, is keenly aware that many members of the “Baby Boomer” generation (individuals born between 1946 and 1964) are presently selling their existing homes – which have significant equity – and purchasing replacement homes with cash.

Many Baby Boomers purchased real estate for the first time in the early 1980s, when the median price for homes was significantly lower than it is in 2014. Now that a large percentage of these individuals have paid their original mortgages in full, and home values have gone up significantly over the course of 30 years, they are selling their existing homes for huge profits and purchasing retirement homes with the cash earned from selling.

An article published on Bloomberg.com on June 2, 2014 entitled, “Cash Deals for Homes Reach Record with Boomers Retiring” prompted Mr. Jason Ruedy to start a discussion on the same matter. Although The Home Loan Arranger understands that the Baby Boomer generation does not want the responsibility of making monthly mortgage payments, he also believes that Baby Boomers are vying for different types of real estate than individuals in younger generations.

“Home sellers often prefer to sell their homes to individuals offering to buy the properties in cash instead of with mortgages. So in a bidding war, the cash buyer is often the one who wins. I’m hoping that prospective home buyers will not read the article published on Bloomberg.com and get discouraged. I believe that Baby Boomers are looking to purchase very different types of properties than younger people – especially people in their 20s and 30s, and new families with young children.”

“The Bloomberg.com article discusses the fact that a large percentage of Baby Boomers are looking for real estate in rural communities or areas that cater to older adults. So, younger individuals or families looking to purchase homes with mortgages are not necessarily going to be competing with cash-in-hand Baby Boomers.” – Jason M. Ruedy, The Home Loan Arranger

In Mr. Ruedy’s opinion, the Baby Boomer generation wants the peace of mind that goes along with owning a home outright. However, those that need a mortgage in order to purchase a home should work with a reputable mortgage lender to make the home buying process as quick and easy as possible.

About The Home Loan Arranger:
Mr. Jason M. Ruedy, also known as The Home Loan Arranger, has 20+ years of experience in the mortgage business. His company was built around the crucial principles of hard work, discipline, and determination. The Home Loan Arranger evaluates client applications quickly and efficiently and structures loans with the best possible terms. Mr. Ruedy is successful in achieving loan closings for clients while meeting their highest expectations. Jason M. Ruedy is ranked #2 in the state of Colorado by Scotsman Guide, which is the top leading resource for mortgage originators.

For media inquiries, please contact Mr. Jason M. Ruedy, “The Home Loan Arranger”:

The Home Loan Arranger
512 Cook St #100
Denver, CO USA
Phone: (303) 862-4742
Toll Free: (877) 938-7501
http://www.thehomeloanarranger.com/


[…]

Another pitfall for US workers « Bankrate, Inc.

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Employees with financial problems tend to be less productive than others. So it’s not surprising that employers try to provide a little extra financial stability through employee credit unions, 401(k) plans and bonuses.

But what about short-term, high-fee loans?

That’s just what some companies are trying. They’re offering “workplace” loans of $150 to $500 with fees ranging from $8 to $25 plus interest, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. The loans usually last about two weeks, and employees repay what’s owed directly from their paychecks. These employer-sponsored loans are being advertised as a cheaper alternative to the traditional payday loan, even though they can carry an effective annual interest rate of 165 percent.

I suppose I should applaud a new alternative for cash-strapped workers, given the concern over typical payday lenders and the strong consumer demand for short-term loans. But I’m not.

Here’s why: Workplace loans serve the same purpose as payday loans, and they can create the same problems. Consumers generally turn to them because they need to bridge a gap in their finances. Usually, they’re living paycheck to paycheck and need money for an unexpected expense. But with such a tight budget, it’s unlikely that they’ll have enough from their next paycheck to repay the loan. So, how does it get repaid? In many cases, with another loan. This can start a vicious, expensive cycle that is difficult to break.

Rather than rely on workplace loans or payday loans or any other form of emergency financing, consumers should learn how to plan ahead. They should be encouraged to build their own rainy day fund by socking away a few dollars each pay period. Sure, they’ll make sacrifices to keep building their savings. But it’ll be worth the peace of mind that comes from knowing they can pay for their next car repair or medical issue. No borrowing necessary.

Instead of short-term loans, employers could offer automatic withdrawals from paychecks into savings accounts. They could encourage saving by matching a percentage of what their workers deposit. Now that would make a positive difference in their employee’s lives.

What do you think?

[…]

Pensions for Cash: Beware, Say Critics

An online search quickly reveals several firms offering to buy pensions for a lump sum of cash.

(Read more: Payday Loans Cost Economy $1 Billion in 2011: Study)

“PensionStream.com is the go-to source when you want to leverage a retirement income stream for a lump sum of cash, in order to cover an unexpected life event, finance an opportunity, or simply to have the peace of mind that cash on hand can bring,” says one site.

Emails and phone calls to the top three online search results—PensionStream.com, Pension Funding, and LumpSum Pension Advance, were not returned.

Most say bad credit is not a problem and no references are necessary to secure the cash. The messages target any type of pension—be it military, civil service, or corporate. Pensioners sign over their rights for all or some of their pension to the buyer for a lump some of money.

But what’s missing from the sales pitch, say experts critical of the practice, are the fees that come with the cash— fees that in effect become interest rates somewhere between 25 and 100 percent.

California and other states have requirements to divulge the difference between the promised upfront cash and the value of the pension over time. But that’s often overlooked by sellers, critics say.

“These companies don’t call them loans, but a lot of people don’t realize they end up paying more in fees than if they took out a loan from a bank,” said Stuart Rossman, director of litigation for the National Consumer Law Center,a nonprofit consumer advocacy group. “If you compare bank interest rates to the fees, the fees cost more. Pensioners actually get less cash than if they took out a bank loan.”

(Read more: New Rule Signals Kiss of Death for Pensions)

One particular egregious part of the loans, Rossman said, is the way the firms target military pensions.

“By law, military pensions cannot be assigned to a third party,” Rossman explained. “But these firms set up a power of attorney account in a bank where the pensioner’s money goes into the account that’s controlled by the pension buyer and the person who had the pension can’t even stop the withdrawals. It’s really bad.”

Schock pointed out how pensioners lose future earnings when they settle for upfront cash.

“We get cost of living increases with pensions, but if you sell them, you won’t get that increase,” Schock explained.

[…]

Dave Ramsey: Why you shouldn’t cash out

Dear Dave,

Is it a good idea for a married couple in their early 30s who have a lot of student loan debt to cash out one of their 401(k)s to pay it off?

Marcy

Dear Marcy,

No way! You never cash out a 401(k) or IRA to pay off debt, unless its to avoid a foreclosure or bankruptcy. Lets say you take $50,000 out of your 401(k). Do you know what happens next? Theyre going to charge you a 10 percent penalty, plus your tax rate. If you make $75,000 a year, that puts you in a 25 percent tax rate, plus the penalty. Thats a 35 percent hit, and thats how much of your money is going straight down the toilet.

Look at it this way. You wouldnt ask me if its OK to borrow money at a 35 percent interest rate to pay off your school loans, right? That would be ridiculous, and this is just as dumb.

There are no shortcuts when it comes to getting out of debt, Marcy. Roll up your sleeves and get on a beans and rice budget where every dollar has a name. This will enable you to save money and pay off that debt!

Paying for the classes

Dear Dave,

My wife and I have our fully funded emergency fund in place, and were debt-free, except for the house. She wants to return to school to get a masters degree and change careers. Shell be reimbursed up to $7,000 a year. Can we use some of our emergency fund to get things started?

Kevin

Dear Kevin,

Ive got a better idea. Save up the money!

You guys are in great shape already. And to me, this opportunity seems like a small investment with a fabulous return. I really like the idea. But you have to be careful when it comes to things like this. You dont want to get into the habit of calling things emergencies when theyre not emergencies. Its a great thing, but its nowhere near an emergency.

I know shes excited about the possibilities, but Id just roll up my sleeves, save a little extra for a while and cash flow the classes. Shell probably get reimbursed for the first classes right after she gets her grades, then you can use the reimbursement check to pay for the next classes, and the next check the next classes. Make sense?

I love the school idea, and Im glad your wife has such a great opportunity. But I dont want you to take a chance on messing up the progress youve made in taking control of your finances. Just take your time and save for those first classes. Youll be glad you did!

Dave Ramsey is Americas most trusted voice on money and business. Hes authored four New York Times best-selling books: Financial Peace, More Than Enough, The Total Money Makeover and EntreLeadership. The Dave Ramsey Show is heard by more than 5 million listeners each week on more than 500 radio stations. Follow Dave on Twitter at @DaveRamsey and on the Web at daveramsey.com.

[…]

LendUp Raises Cash From Kleiner Perkins, Andreessen Horowitz …

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A new Y Combinator-incubated startup is entering the fintech scene today, aiming to disrupt payday loans and consumer finance. LendUp, is leveraging technology to redefine the payday lending experience, bringing a new level of innovation and transparency to an industry that desperately needs disruption. And the San Francisco-based startup is launching today with funding from an impressive group of VC firms and angels including Y Combinator, Kleiner Perkins, Yuri Milner’s Startfund, Andreessen Horowitz, Google Ventures, Thomvest Ventures, Kapor Capital, Bronze Investments, Founders CoOp, Data Collective, Garry Tan, Harj Taggar, Alexis Ohanian and others.

At a basic level, LendUp is direct lender and has created a way to use small-dollar loans as an opportunity for consumers to build credit and move up the financial ladder. Consumers who have poor or no credit can apply for and receive small-dollar, short-term loans (up to $250 for up to 30 days). But it doesn’t stop there. The company’s mission is to use small-dollar loans as a way to help customers build credit and move up the financial ladder.

As the startup explained to be, last year alone over 15 million Americans took out payday loans, borrowing a total of $45 billion dollars. Many of these Americans are unbanked, meaning they don’t have any credit and can’t use the traditional financial outlets for loans and cash. But most of these payday transactions are a simple fix, and the cycle of poor or no credit continues. Many end up trapped in long-term debt caused by hidden fees, costly rollovers and opaque terms and conditions. Credit agencies don’t acknowledge the payday loan, so even if consumers pay them on time, they don’t receive the positive marks on their credit report.

LendUp prides itself on no hidden fees, no rollovers, lower interest rates, exceptional customer service, instant loan decisions, and an open platform. The company has a selective lending process that uses risk analysis and only approves 15% of applicants, but partners with non-profits to more optimal solutions for the 85% of applicants the startup can’t help. LendUp says that it uses data analytics, a new type of risk model that utilizes non-traditional data sources like social media to make decisions.

For those who do qualify, LendUp starts with a fee of 15 percent of the loan amount. But that fee can be lowered and discounted for repaying the loan early, and by taking educational courses on the platform on good credit, financial planning and more.

LendUp takes it one step further. The company has developed a predictive model to see if these users will be able to be better financial candidates, and if they show good payments behavior, take the online credit courses, LendUp will graduate them up to a type of loan that a bank or credit agency would consider as a real product. And the consumer can start actually developing a credit history. Already customers who are testing LendUp are improving their credit.

For background, the company’s founders are two stepbrothers from Oakland, CA. Sasha Orloff worked at the Grameen Bank (whose founder won the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize), The World Bank, and Citigroup. Jacob Rosenberg was the 80th employee at Yahoo and CTO of Platform at Zynga.

As the Orloff brothers explained to me, the company seeks to differentiate itself from companies like Zestcash by creating an actual ladder for the unbanked to gain credit and use traditional financial resources and instruments.

LENDUP LendUplendup.com

December 25, 2011

Consumer lending is broken. The consumer lending industry in the United States is broken. Each year, millions of Americans pay billions of dollars in unnecessary fees and interest charges because banks and and payday lenders continue to rely on old technology and outdated business practices. They are passing those high fees directly on to the consumers. Lendup is the solution. LendUp is a new type of short-term loan; one that costs less than a payday loan, and one that rewards good behavior….

? Learn more […]

Governor Markell Signs Bill Limiting Payday Loans | State of …

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Rep. Keeley: ‘Predatory practice’ carries interest rates in excess of 400 percent

DOVER – Governor Jack Markell signed legislation Wednesday aimed at breaking the cycle of debt thousands find themselves locked into via the predatory practice of short-term “payday” loans.

Payday loans are small-amount loans with a repayment period of less than 60 days. Up to now, there has been no limit to the number of payday loans an individual could take out in a given time. Many of the annual percentage rates commonly run in excess of 400 percent, and many who take out loans are forced to repeatedly take out and roll over loans because they can’t pay them off, which often leads to them defaulting.

“We recognize some people need immediate access to an immediate loan. This bill maintains that choice,” Governor Markell said. “Instead of a financial hand-up, though, repeated use of these loans can become a set of financial hand-cuffs. This law helps limit those worst-case scenarios.”

Under House Bill 289, sponsored by Reps. Helene Keeley and Gerald Hocker and Sens. Anthony DeLuca and Colin Bonini, borrowers would be limited to taking out five payday loans of $1,000 or less in any 12-month period, including loan rollovers or refinancing. The bill also would create a database to track the number of payday loans a person has obtained. The state banking commissioner’s office would be required to provide the General Assembly with a report on the prevalence and nature of payday loans.

“Payday loans are a stopgap fix to financial problems, not a long-term solution. People who regularly take out or roll over payday loans are in untenable financial situations and desperately need relief,” said Rep. Keeley, D-Wilmington South. “This bill will hopefully help break that cycle and put people back on the right path. There are many other avenues out there for people facing financial problems – nonprofit groups can provide counseling and assistance, and banks are probably a more viable option for people who need a more long-term solution.”

The state Justice of Peace Court system reported that last year, payday lenders filed more than 2,400 cases in Justice of the Peace Courts for payday loan defaults.

“The testimony we heard in the Senate on payday lending was compelling and indicated a strong need that something be done,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Sen. DeLuca, D-Newark, the measure’s prime Senate sponsor. “Both the limits on the number of loans a person can take out and the data we hope to develop through this law is a good start in dealing with the issue.”

Thirteen other states outright prohibit payday loans, while another 21 states prohibit payday loan rollovers. Thirteen states have statewide databases to track payday loans.

Illinois, which enacted a payday loan reform law in 2005, reported a steady drop in the number of unique borrowers through 2008, from a high of nearly 120,000 in 2006 to about 80,000 in 2006. That is an average annual drop of 20.4 percent.

“This legislation still gives people the freedom and flexibility to manage their own finances as they see fit, but it reduces the risk that they may be victimized by predatory lending practices,” said House Minority Whip Rep. Hocker, R-Ocean View.

“This law provides needed protections for consumers while still allowing for access to cash for those in need. I am very proud to be a sponsor of this important law,” said Sen. Bonini, R-Dover South. “Thank you to all who worked so hard to make this happen.”

[…]