MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Shelby County Trustee David Lenoir is taking a stand against fast cash shops and wants them closed. Tomorrow, he will join Memphis and Shelby County mayors to announce a new tool that could help some Mid-Southerners' dependency on the shops. But, the shops said they have a right to be open.
An app called "Bank on Memphis" is what Lenoir hopes will run the 263 check cashing and title loan shops in Shelby County out of business. There are 243 shops in Memphis alone.
Lenoir said the large amount of shops caught his attention while he was coaching at Manassas High School.
"Across Austin Peay Highway, I saw payday lender, rent-to-own, payday lender, payday lender," Lenoir said.
There is a dozen on that one North Memphis block.
"They're obviously here for a reason, because there's a customer base here," Lenoir said.
Cash Checking Services customer Christine Thompson calls the shops a lifesaver.
"I had a hardship between payday and this really helped me out," Thompson said.
But, with the city of Memphis leading America in adults who do not have their own bank accounts or access to them, Lenoir said he is worried the fast cash lending is a self-defeating cycle of debt, poverty, and low credit scores.
"One who starts with a $500 loan to, maybe fix a transmission on their car so they can get to work, ends up owing several thousand dollars over time," Thompson said.
On the other hand, Check Into Cash Senior Vice President Jabo Covert said they do not prey on anyone and have broken no laws.
"We don't force them to come to our stores. They can choose to come in or not come in," Covert said.
He said the government sets the prices and they welcome other options and Check Into Cash has zero violations in Tennessee.
"We follow every single rule we are supposed to follow," Covert said.
Lenoir will unveil a new component to the Bank on Memphis second chance banking program on Thursday. It is a smartphone app with access to 14 banks offering special services such as small loans and peer-to-peer lending.
One man, who did not want to be identified, said he is skeptical because he never had success with traditional banks.
"A lot of these people coming to these places is because they can't go to the bank and get this money when they want it," he said.
For some who want out of the fast cash cycle, it is a ray of hope.
The news conference will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday at First Baptist Church on Broad Avenue.