In my previous article, “Understanding The Alternative Finance Sector Through Gary Rivlin's Broke, USA, Pt. 1: Competitive Advantages,” I described how one can learn about the alternative finance business by reading Broke,USA, Gary Rivlin’s book on the industry. In that article, I noted that the book shows how the strengths of such companies as payday lenders, pawn shops, and rent-to-own stores include high returns on investment, pricing power, and growth opportunities.
That said, it would be wrong to focus on only the industry’s competitive advantages. This is an industry that, after all, focuses on making high interest loans to lower and middle class people. As a result, an investor in this industry faces many risks, the most prominent of which is regulation.
Regulation is the best known risk to the alternative finance industry because it can totally eliminate some parts of the industry, especially payday lending. As Billy Webster, the founder of America’s largest payday lending chain, Advance America Cash Advance, says in Broke, USA, “it’s hard to invest in the future earnings of a company if you don’t know if it’s going to have a future.”
And yet, Broke, USA also shows how regulation is not necessarily the threat to the alternative finance industry that some would believe. (Read More)