Missouri has found itself in the midst of a national debate over payday loans -- partly because of a growing, grassroots consumer movement against the industry, which holds a great deal of political clout in the state. Thousands of payday borrowers statewide pay an average annual percentage rate (APR) of 450 percent, which is significantly higher than the APR for similar loans elsewhere in the United States.
Missouri also is eighth in the nation in terms of payday loan dollar volume, raking in more than $1 billion annually, the Center for Responsible Lending reports. Molly Fleming-Pierre of Communities Creating Opportunities says that state law allows up to six loan rollovers or renewals, "but what practically happens is a person not necessarily renewing the same payday loan, they’re getting one next door…or down the street." Organizations in Missouri are seeking to establish payday loan alternatives. Central Bank of Kansas City, for example, is involved a program initiated by Communities Creating Opportunities that includes a longer payback period. Clients of the Fair Community Credit initiative are referred to the program by faith-based groups and social-service agencies.