A state reports shows some interesting developments in Missouri’s payday loan industry.

Brenda Procter with the University of Missouri Extension helps educate Missourians on predatory lending. She explains the findings of the 2011 Payday Lender General Assembly report.

“The number of licenses being issued is down by roughly 19% and the number of loans are down. What’s, I guess, disturbing to me is that the interest rate being charged on the loans, the typical interest rate, is now 445% APR. So the costs are going up, and the number of participants in that market is going down,” Procter said.

Procter says she’s not really sure what to make of this; whether it’s the payday loan stores trying to keep revenue up as the market shrinks, or whether there’s just fewer businesses because the old ones are getting bigger.

“I wonder if it has a little bit to do with some of the regulatory pressure because payday lending has been a hot topic the last two years in the legislature. I wonder if maybe some of them are getting cold feet, because I’m sort of hard-pressed to explain why the number (of licenses) dropped so much over the last two years,” Procter said.

She says she doesn’t expect any payday loan legislation to pass at the state level this year, but she is encouraged by a new bipartisan workgroup looking at the issue.

“Policy is not my job, making laws is not my job. But any time a report like this comes out that shows that much impact on low-income consumers, I feel like we need to get the word out there. Hopefully those who do make policy will figure out something they can do to protect consumers a little bit better because 445% is not good for anyone,” Procter said.

You can view the Division of Finance’s summary of the study by following this link to a .pdf of the letter sent to Governor Nixon.

AUDIO: Ryan Famuliner reports [1 min MP3]