In the Red: Overdrafts, Payday Lending and the Underbanked
56 Pages Posted: 21 Dec 2020 Last revised: 3 Mar 2022
Date Written: December 2020
The reordering of transactions from "high-to-low" is a controversial bank practice thought to maximize fees paid by low-income customers on overdrawn accounts. We exploit multiple class-action lawsuits resulting in mandatory changes to this practice, coupled with payday lending data, to show that after banks cease high-to-low reordering, low-income individuals reduce borrowing from alternative lenders. These consumers increase consumption, experience long-term improvements in overall financial health, and gain access to lower-cost loans in the traditional system. These findings highlight that aggressive bank practices create a demand for alternative financial services, highlighting an important link between the traditional and alternative financial systems.
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