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URB hearings target payday loan services in Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia’s payday loan industry could be in for an overhaul as the provincial Utility and Review Board gears up for public hearings next month.

Among the issues to be discussed is whether restrictions should be placed on repeat loan customers.

The board will also examine the maximum fee charged by the businesses, the maximum interest rate, which is now set at 60 per cent, and whether the Internet payday loan industry is adequately regulated in the province.

Board-appointed consumer advocate David Roberts said he would like to see the maximum fee of $25 per $100 borrowed reduced to be better aligned with that of other provinces.

Lenders in Manitoba, for instance, charge a maximum fee of $17 per $100, while Ontario lenders are permitted to charge up to $21 and companies in British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan can charge up to $23.

“The primary issue remains the cost,” Roberts said.

“From my perspective, certainly, there is a need to justify the fact that we are the most expensive province in the country.

“The other issue has to do with repeat loans and whether there’s anything that can be done to either relieve people of some of the cost of repeat loans or to require breathing space between loans.”

In documents filed to the review board, the Canadian Payday Loan Association says the board should not change the maximum cost of borrowing.

It adds that “lenders are not making inordinate profits” and argues that the maximum fee charged on defaults should be raised from $40 to $45 to conform with fees charged by banks for invalid cheques.

The association’s president, Stan Keyes, said the costs associated with running a payday loan company are substantial, and reducing customer fees could prompt some stores to close, threatening the viability of the industry.

“Then that’s when the door opens for the unlicensed online lender to make their product available, which puts the consumer at a terrible risk,” Keyes said.

The association notes in its submission to the board that any attempt to restrict borrowers’ ability to take out repeat loans will not be effective.

“If you limit the number of loans a borrower can obtain from licensed lenders, the borrower will merely turn to unlicensed lenders to obtain credit,” the document says.

“That will only drive the market for the offshore unlicensed lenders. There is no consumer protection for borrowers who obtain loans from offshore unlicensed lenders.”

The association also takes issue with Nova Scotia’s requirement for lenders to have at least one brick-and-mortar outlet in the province, and to process requested transfers within one hour.

Those regulations “pose an obstacle to obtaining an Internet lending licence” and add to the proliferation of unlicensed Internet lenders, the group says.

Tim Houston, finance critic for the provincial Progressive Conservative Party, has requested intervener status at the hearing.

“We need to make sure that the people who use these loans are not being treated unfairly, so we just want to keep an eye on the process.”

While Houston won’t be lobbying for change one way or the other, he is concerned about the fees that lenders now charge.

“I’d be concerned about attempts to increase the rates. The fees that are being charged now I think, for the most part, seem to be pretty fair. I want to make sure there’s no undue increase.”

The hearings, set for Feb. 10 to 12, come after federal and provincial government officials accepted recommendations of a consumer measures committee to target repeat borrowing, to improve electronic tracking systems of loans and to begin a public awareness campaign about high-cost loans.

[…]

Amid Record Cash Inflows, Leveraged Loan Volume Keeps On

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U.S. leveraged loan volume for the week ended July 25 totaled $10.3 billion, in line with the past two weeks, after a new-issue lull brought about by the July 4 holiday and capital markets turmoil related to the Fed announcement on tapering. Year to date loan volume totals $384 billion, well ahead of the $224 billion logged at this point in 2012, according to S&P Capital IQ/LCD.

The new-issue market is maintaining momentum, especially for credits that hit the investor sweet spot (and perhaps benefit from a strong private equity sponsor). For instance: The massive success over the past week of a UBS UBS-led arranger group’s LBO deal for Gardner Denver was an elegant illustration that the financing window is wide open right now – for the right deal,” says LCD’s Chris Donnelly. Indeed, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, which is acquiring the machinery concern in a $3.9 billion deal, was able to twice cut the proposed interest rate on the leveraged loan backing the transaction because of investor demand (they also added $100 million to the credit, bringing it to $1.9 billion).

One reason for the generally accommodating new-issue environment: Institutional investors continue to pour money into market. For the second time in two weeks U.S. loan mutual funds saw a record amount of investor cash, some $1.85 billion this week, which was preceded by $1.71 billion the prior week. Year to date, U.S. loan mutual funds have seen net inflows of $39.5 billion, according to Lipper FMI.

Deals like Gardner Denver and massive cash inflows are not making every credit brought to market a slam dunk, however. A number of issues saw investor-friendly revisions, reports Donnelly, indicating that, while institutional investors are hungry for paper, deals do have to check some of the boxes to be completed.

[…]

Kerry Katona wouldn't get a payday loan from bank | The Sun …

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KERRY KATONA would be turned down for a loan by mainstream lenders, a financial expert told The Sun last night.

The former bankrupt star caused fury this week by becoming the face of cashlady.co.uk a payday loan firm aimed at women that charges a staggering 2,670 per cent interest rate.

Consumer finance specialist Dominik Lipnicki said: “I question whether someone with Kerry’s profile would be given a loan by a bank or building society.

“As a former bankrupt without a steady monthly income, she’s a high risk.

Angry … Nikki Roberts slammed the star

SWNS

“But payday lenders have looser criteria as they lend smaller amounts over a shorter timeframe.”

He continued: “It depends on individual circumstances, but those who are unemployed or discharged bankrupts can be eligible.

“The lender will normally give a loan of up to £100 at first and, once it’s been paid back, then they will increase the amount you can borrow.

“But payday loans are a bad idea in the short term. If you can’t pay them back at the end of the loan term, then you are often encouraged to roll the loan over and just pay the interest, meaning debts can quickly spiral out of control.

“In the long term they can seriously affect your credit rating if you do want to get a mortgage or larger, long-term loan in the future, for example.

“I would not recommend payday loans at all.”

Writing in a blog yesterday, Katona, 32, defended her decision to front the campaign for cashlady.

She wrote: “A few loan companies have got a bad name because there have been some horror stories of people falling into serious debt with some unscrupulous lenders, but I know that doesn’t mean everyone offering a payday loan is a shark.

“But I can hold my head up high. I’m paying off my debts, and the one thing I know now more than anything is how to make ends meet for me and my family.

“And every now and again, for people like me, when emergencies come up, that might mean getting a short-term payday loan.”

That doesn’t wash with single mum-of-four Nikki Roberts, who last night blasted the reality star for her association with the company.

The 29-year-old, fell victim to payday loans firms when she moved house and lost her job. Her £250 debt to lender wonga.com tripled in a matter of months and she ended up losing her home.

Nikki said: “It’s completely hypocritical of her to support a charity that helps fallen families.”

Eventually she was put into a safe house away from her creditors by charity Save The Family — whose most famous supporter is Katona.

She has donated Christmas presents to Save The Family, switched on their Christmas lights, donated old clothes to their charity shop and chose them as her preferred charity when working for an online bingo firm.

On that occasion Katona offered bingo players the chance to win dinner with her in London in return for the firm supporting the good cause. Once she even took a cheque from Iceland for £3,000 for the charity.

Nikki told The Sun: “I can’t believe Kerry Katona, as a fellow mum-of-four, is putting her face to these legal loan sharks.

“She of all celebrities knows what it’s like to be at financial rock bottom with four mouths to feed. It is entirely irresponsible.

“Some women look up to her as a fellow mum and trust what she has to say.

“Her promoting this company is disgusting. These companies are not on mums’ sides — they were a factor in me and my four children ending up without a home.”

Nikki lost her job as a bingo caller when she moved from Blackpool, Lancs, to Wellingborough, Northants, in 2009 to be with her now ex-partner.

She initially borrowed £100 from wonga.com to cover food and bills, but was unable to repay the charges and interest at the end of the loan term so took out another £150 loan to cover the costs.

This spiralled to £750 in interest and charges when she was still unable to cover the repayments.

Nikki — mum to Shawn, 11, Kali, seven, Phoenix, six, and Justin, four — recalled: “As well as the payday loan we had other debts mounting. The strain caused my partner and I to split, and because of the large amount of debt in my name, I was unable to rent another home.

“In February 2010 my four children and I were moved into a safe house run by Save The Family near Mold in north Wales.

“It was an incredibly tough time for us. I had to uproot the kids from their lives and we were effectively homeless, living day to day on charity. It broke my heart.”

The charity helped Nikki to make a debt management plan to repay wonga.com at £5 a week.

She finally left the safe house in August 2011 after 18 months and the family now live back in Wellingborough.

Nikki said: “Kerry has visited the Save The Family house several times, the same one where we lived when we had nowhere else to go.

“She has been bankrupt and knows only too well the stress and anxiety financial ruin can cause mums with children to clothe and feed.

“She ought to be ashamed of herself.”

j.sloan@the-sun.co.uk

[…]

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