Alberta makes progress on payday loan protection
A report on the status of the province’s payday loan industry highlights how lower rates and better lending alternatives have protected Albertans.
An Act to End Predatory Lending mandates reporting on the payday loan industry every year, starting in 2018. The act was fully implemented in November 2016, and the 2017 report reflects the first full year of operations under the new rules.
The annual report provides details of the payday loan industry in Alberta for the previous year, including the total value, number, and average size and term length of payday loans issued.
“We know that life is better when it’s more affordable. That’s why we took swift action to protect borrowers, and this report shows that action is working. Today, borrowers pay lower fees, have more time to pay off their loans and are paying them off in smaller installments. This means hard-working Albertans who use payday loans can keep more of their hard-earned money in their pockets.”
For the first year of reporting, payday lenders confirmed issuing nearly $285 million in payday loans to just over 96,000 individual borrowers. In 2014 and 2015, prior to An Act to End Predatory Lending being implemented, payday lenders reported issuing more than $500 million in payday loans.
It is estimated that by reducing the maximum allowed cost of borrowing from $23 per $100 to $15 per $100, payday lending protections saved Alberta payday loan borrowers over $10 million in loan fees in 2017.
The report also highlights the progress that has been made toward the development of new options for consumers, with three organizations now offering alternatives to payday loans.
- Payday lenders operating in Alberta have been licensed since 2009.
- Alberta now has the lowest interest rate for payday loans in Canada ($15 per $100). All fees must be included in this rate.
- A payday loan is a loan of $1,500 or less that has a term of 62 days or less.
- Eighteen payday lenders currently operate about 140 branches in Alberta.
- Innovation around alternative forms of credit will be discussed further at an event hosted by Service Alberta later this month for lenders, financial institutions and community organizations.
- With the passing of An Act to End Predatory Lending, Alberta led the nation in lowering payday loan rates.
- Alberta also established some of the strongest payday loan protections in the country. These include:
- Requiring all mandatory and optional fees be included in the maximum allowable cost of borrowing.
- Requiring that payday loans can be repaid in installment payments.
- Prohibiting a range of activities by payday lenders such as:
- Actively soliciting individuals through direct contact by email, phone, etc.
- Charging a fee to provide cash to a payday borrower, such as cheque-cashing.
- Soliciting, negotiating or concluding an agreement for another form of credit with a borrower while a payday loan is outstanding.
- Using, disclosing or selling borrower information except in relation to the provision, administration or collection of a payday loan.