By Peter Rudegeair
Jan 17 Wells Fargo & Co and U.S. Bancorp
said on Friday they would stop offering customers a type
of small, short-term loan that has come under regulatory
The so-called deposit advance products are similar to payday
loans, in that they are both small, short-term loans and have
been criticized by consumer activists for their high fees.
These loans are automatically repaid out of future direct
deposits into checking accounts. A typical deposit advance loan
can carry fees of $1.50 to $2 for every $20 borrowed.
In November, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency,
which regulates national banks, and the Federal Deposit
Insurance Corp said they would make rules for deposit advance
products more stringent.
The regulators said they planned to impose additional limits
such as requiring a one-month cooling-off period between the
time one loan is repaid and another can be extended.
"We are encouraging the banks we supervise to develop new
and innovative programs to meet the small-dollar credit needs of
their customers in ways that do not carry the risk of creating a
cycle of high-cost debt," Comptroller of the Currency Thomas
Curry said in an email.
Wells Fargo, the fourth largest U.S. bank, said it will no
longer make its direct deposit advance product available for
customers who open accounts after Feb. 1, although existing
customers can use the product until the middle of 2014.
U.S. Bancorp, a Minneapolis, Minnesota-based bank with $361
billion in assets, will cease offering its checking account
advance product to new customers on Jan. 31 and existing
customers on May 30.
Both banks said the decision to stop providing deposit
advance loans was in response to the OCC and FDIC's guidance.
They did not disclose the revenue they receive from the product,
but it is a small part of their overall business.
Fifth Third Bancorp, a Cincinnati, Ohio-based bank
with $126 billion in assets, said late on Friday it would phase
out its early access deposit advance service by the end of the
year. On Wednesday, Regions Financial Corp, a Birmingham,
Alabama-based bank with $117 billion in assets, said it would
end its Ready Advance product by the end of 2014.