Hungry for Income, Banks Flirt With Payday Lending

Hunting for new sources of revenue, banks offer short-term loans loaded with fees
Illustration by Angus Greig

Seeking new income after federal rules limited fees from overdrafts and debit cards, Wells Fargo, U.S. Bancorp, and other big banks are pitching short-term, high-cost loans that resemble the payday loans more commonly offered by strip-mall storefront operations. At least five banks are offering the loans, typically through a customer’s online account, though the banks don’t use the stigmatized “payday” label. Regions Financial, a Birmingham (Ala.)-based bank, has introduced a product called Ready Advance, while Wells Fargo markets Direct Deposit Advance. Although a rose by any other name …

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