ACE Cash Express Inc., which provides financial services aimed at low-income residents in Portland and Brunswick, no longer is offering short-term “payday” loans, employees confirmed Monday.

A Maine-based competitor said he has been told the company plans to close both of its Maine locations in July as part of a larger downsizing move.

ACE, based in Irving, Texas, did not return repeated phone calls Friday and Monday seeking comment, but employees at its two Maine stores said they have discontinued payday lending services and referred all questions about the policy change to their corporate office.

ACE operates in 31 states and the District of Columbia, according to its website, but not all of those states allow payday lending. The company offers a variety of other services, including prepaid debit cards, check cashing, bill payments, money transfers, money orders and direct deposit.

William Lund, superintendent of the Maine Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection, said he was unaware that ACE had eliminated payday loans recently. However, he said payday loans are not as lucrative in Maine as in some other states because of a relatively low cap on the maximum annual interest rate lenders can charge.

Federal regulators are proposing new rules that would make payday lending even less profitable, Lund said.


ACE was charging its payday loan customers in Maine $15 to borrow $150 for up to a month, and $25 to borrow $250. The average annual interest rate charged for payday loans in Maine is 217 percent, according to a 2014 study by the Pew Charitable Trust. Payday loan stores in other states charge average annual rates as high as 582 percent, it said.

Todd Miranda, president of Portland-based Republicash, ACE’s only competitor in southern Maine, said he has spoken to people at ACE and was told that it plans to close both of its Maine locations in July as part of a larger downsizing effort in several states. Discontinuing payday loans is a necessary precursor, Miranda said, because ACE needs to collect on all outstanding loans before closing the stores.

Miranda said the ACE closures may provide a boost to Republicash’s seven stores in Maine. “I believe we’ll be getting some of the trickle-down from them,” he said.

ACE has been under fire from both federal regulators and customers nationally in recent years for some of its business practices.

The federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently reached a $10 million settlement with ACE after accusing it of harassing borrowers to collect debts and take out multiple loans. A federal class-action lawsuit against the company is pending in Delaware, where it is accused of “wrongful and unconscionable conduct, including breaches of the duty of good faith and fair dealing,” according to the complaint, filed in U.S. District Court.

Attorneys for ACE have argued that the lead plaintiff, payday loan borrower Rosalyn Johnson of Delaware, has failed to support her claims with evidence, and that ACE is not liable for Johnson’s failure to understand the terms of her loan.


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