Fifth Third Bank Has 100 Million Reasons To Want To Keep Offering Payday-Like Loans

fifthWhen the four banks still offering customers payday loan-like services announced they would discontinue their often under-fire products, they likely knew their bottom-line would take a hit. One of those institutions, First Third Bank announced this week that changes to its program resulted in the loss of millions of dollars in revenue, providing an example of why it can be difficult to persuade lenders to ditch the profit-making, but financially devastating programs.

The Cincinnati Business Journal reports that changes to Fifth Third Bank’s Early Advance program caused the bank’s revenue to drop by nearly $100 million last year.

The decline in revenue shows just how lucrative bank payday loans were and why a number of institutions were tempted to offer the business to begin with, Lauren Saunders, managing attorney for the National Consumer Law Center tells Consumerist.

Banks’ deposit advance services differed little from the typical storefront payday loan operation – both offered high-interest, short-term loans meant to get consumers out of emergency financial situations, but in reality have been found to trap them in an ongoing cycle of debt.

Fifth Third Bank, which was one of four left offering payday-like advance deposit services to customers last year, announced in January 2013 that it would leave the often financially devastating product behind.

However, the company backtracked on its vow just months later announcing that instead of ditching the product altogether, it would implement changes including closing the service to new customers and reducing the amount customers could borrow.

Fifth Third Bank CEO Tayfun Tuzun tells the Business Journal that by cutting the amount customers could borrow to no more than $1,000 at a time and limiting the number of consecutive number of months a customer can advance the maximum credit limit caused a sharp drop in the bank’s revenue.

While Tuzun has said the bank would wait for regulators’ guidance to determine whether or not they should move forward with their products, the million dollar decline in revenue for Fifth Third could make it difficult for them to close the door on the service.

“Fifth Third is still making money after cutting the price 70% in response to regulator concerns,” Saunders says. “Fifth Third is clearly trying to figure out a way to continue making money off of bank payday loans.”

Here’s how many millions Fifth Third lost because of payday loan change [Cincinnati Business Journal]