Buy Now, Dispute Later? BNPL To Get Same Consumer Protections As Credit Cards
~2.8 mins read

The next time you buy something and pay for it in four installments, you may have the right to dispute the charges, just like you would with a credit card. After years of scrutinizing the business model, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is imposing new regulations on buy-now-pay-later plans. The government’s consumer watchdog is granting customers the protections they have when they use credit cards, including the right to dispute charges or demand a refund after returning a product, the bureau said Wednesday. 

The new rules bring buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) products into line with traditional credit cards when it comes to consumer protections. A relatively new offering in consumer finance, BNPL services such as Affirm (AFRM), Klarna and Afterpay allow users to make purchases and split the payments over interest-free installments, usually four months. 

“When consumers check out and choose ‘Buy Now, Pay Later,’ they don’t know if they will get a refund if they return their product or whether the lender will help them if they didn’t get what was promised,” bureau director Rohit Chopra said in a press release. “Regardless of whether a shopper swipes a credit card or uses Buy Now, Pay Later, they are entitled to important consumer protections under longstanding laws and regulations already on the books.”

The rule drew a mixed response from the industry it affects.“FTA member companies are committed to strong consumer protections, including for disputes and refunds, and agree these protections should be applied consistently across the industry and to those companies claiming to offer Buy Now, Pay Later-like services,” said Penny Lee, President and CEO of the Financial Technology Association, a trade group representing BNPL companies, in a statement.However, she said BNPL is "fundamentally different" from credit cards because they don't charge interest and borrowers can't carry a balance.Affirm said in a statement it already offers dispute resolution to customers and pauses payments while they are resolved.

The CFPB has probed the relatively new BNPL sector over data privacy, the financial vulnerability of people who use it, and whether it was making it too easy for customers to rack up too much debt. 

The bureau determined that functionally, BNPL services are like credit cards in many ways and therefore are subject to the same rules and regulations that govern the more established industry. The rule will go into effect in two months, the bureau said. 

Many BNPL providers already have a process for customers to dispute loans, but the new CFPB rules establish it as a legal requirement. Some customers ran into trouble when attempting to dispute BNPL loans, or had to make payments while the dispute was resolved, the bureau found in a 2022 report. Disputes and returns are relatively common—affecting 13.7% of transactions in 2021—since BNPL loans are often offered by clothing merchants, according to the report.

Under the new rules, consumers won’t have to make any payments while the dispute is investigated.

The bureau also determined that BNPL products don't count as credit cards for some purposes and that BNPL companies won't have to follow certain regulations that apply to them, for example, determining that customers are able to repay, bureau officials said in a conference call with reporters.

The new rule is an "interpretive rule," meaning the bureau is saying how existing rules should apply to BNPL, not issuing a completely new regulation.

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Biden Administration Forgives $7.7 Billion Loans For 160,000 Borrowers
~0.8 mins read

President Joe Biden’s campaign of piecemeal student loan forgiveness is rolling on. 

The Department of Education has forgiven $7.7 billion worth of federal student debt for 160,500 borrowers through different programs affecting borrowers in various situations, the department said Wednesday. 

The latest round of forgiveness brings the total to $167 billion in relief for 4.75 million borrowers across several programs, according to the White House. Nearly a year after the Supreme Court struck down President Joe Biden’s broad student loan forgiveness proposal, several smaller-scale programs are chipping away at canceling debt.The latest announcement included borrowers in three programs:

In addition to those programs, the department is finalizing a broader effort at student loan forgiveness which, if it survives legal challenges, will bring the total number of borrowers having some of their loans canceled to 30 million.

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Police Arrest 18-yr-old Notorious C¥ltist And Leader Of An Armed R%bbery Gang In Anambra
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Police in Anambra State have arrested an 18-year-old man, Anichede Akachukwu, aka Star B, who is said to be a notorious c¥ltist and leader of an armed r%bbery gang.

A statement by the spokesperson of the Anambra State Police Command, SP Tochukwu Ikenga, said the suspect is notorious for conducting r%bberies in Asaba, Delta State, and Ogbaru in Anambra.

“The suspect, Anichede Akachukwu ‘M’ 18 years A.K.A Star B is a confessed leader of Vikings Secret C¥lt Confraternity and armed gang t+rrorizing Ogbaru LGA and Asaba in Delta State.

His arrest is following a tip-off of intelligence gathered as he was receiving treatment in their den from a b¥llet wo¥nd sustained in their encounter with police operatives in Asaba.

The suspects have provided police with information on their mode of operations and names of other gang members which is already aiding the ongoing investigation,” he said.

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Fewer Than Average Existing Homes Were Sold In April, Even As Inventory Gridlock Eases
~2.2 mins read

The market for existing homes was stuck in neutral in April, with fewer sales and soaring prices as high mortgage rates continued to stifle homebuying.

If homes sold at the rate they did in April, 4.14 million would be sold all year, a 1.9% decline from the rate in March, the National Association of Realtors said Wednesday. Despite slow sales, prices continued climbing: the median-priced home sold for $407,600, the highest ever for any April, and a 5.7% increase from last year.

To put those numbers in perspective, the sales rate in April was 17% below the long-run average of 4.96 million, and 26% below the level in March 2022 when the Federal Reserve began its campaign of anti-inflation interest rate hikes, Jay Hawkins, an economist at BMO Capital Markets, said in a commentary.  

Those figures highlight how increasing mortgage rates have put the brakes on home sales over the past two years. In early 2022, mortgage rates were still near the record lows they hit during the pandemic, which made homebuying more affordable and fueled frenzied demand for houses. 

That began to change in March of that year when the Federal Reserve began raising its benchmark interest rate to combat inflation, pushing up mortgage rates. The average rate offered for a 30-year mortgage was 7.02% last week according to Freddie Mac, and has been hovering around 7% all year.

High mortgage rates have made monthly mortgage payments all but unaffordable for many buyers, stifling demand. It's also discouraging would-be sellers from moving, which would mean giving up low mortgage rates they secured when borrowing was cheaper. 

That “lock-in” effect has helped keep prices rising despite falling sales, an unusual combination historically.

There was one bright spot for homebuyers in the report: the lock-in effect appeared to diminish somewhat, with the number of homes for sale rising to 1.21 million from 1.1 million in March, the fourth increase in as many months and the most since October 2021.

“We are beginning to see more choices for consumers out in the marketplace," said Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the association, in a conference call with reporters.The uptick in inventory could be due to a surge in homebuilding in recent years trickling down to the existing home market, and the lock-in effect diminishing somewhat as homeowners resign themselves to the new financial realities.

"Maybe people are accepting that we may be in this new normal high interest rate environment," Yun said.The number of homes for sale still paled in comparison to pre-pandemic times: there were 1.8 million for sale in April 2019, before the pandemic hit, for example.

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A Woman Who Loves You Won’t Mind Waking Up By 2 Am To Cook For You — Media Personality Sarki
~0.3 mins read

Media Personality Sarki has revealed that a woman who loves you won’t mind waking up by 2 am to cook for you.

A woman that loves you won’t mind waking you up at 2 in the morning to cook for you Just make sure you marry someone that loves you, gents.

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Modine Manufacturing Stock Drops After Weak Quarterly Sales, Mixed Guidance
~2.0 mins read

Shares in Modine Manufacturing (MOD) dropped 9% in premarket trading Wednesday morning after the thermal-management solutions provider posted weaker-than-expected quarterly sales and issued mixed guidance as it tries a capture a slice of the booming artificial intelligence (AI) data center market.

For the quarter ending March 31, the Racine, Wisconsin-based company reported revenue of $603.5 million, down 2% from a year earlier and below the $605.4 million expected by analysts. Adjusted earnings in the period of 77 cents per share edged past Wall Street estimates by a penny.

Turning to forward guidance, the company expects full-year fiscal 2025 net sales growth of between 5% and 10%, which matches the consensus view. However, It projects adjusted earnings to range between $3.55 and $3.85 per share, with the $3.70 midpoint of that forecast coming in below analysts’ expectations of $3.81 a share.

The company said it is adding additional data center manufacturing capacity in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom to meet the future needs of its clients.

“Overall, we expect revenue growth to be driven by continued strength in the data center market and growth in other targeted markets, partially offset by lower sales resulting from the impact of Performance Technologies divestitures and other planned reductions,” Modine CEO Neil Brinker said in the earnings release.

Though a McKinsey report projects data center demand in the United States to grow by 10% a year until 2030, the company’s climate solutions segment that houses its data center cooling products reported sales growth of just 1% in the March quarter. The stock's post-earnings sell-off indicates that investors may be cautious over the division’s expansion before seeing further revenue improvement.

Modine Manufacturing shares have trended steadily higher over the past 12 months, with only several minor retracements. After climbing to a new all-time high (ATH) last week, the price eased slightly ahead of the company’s quarterly results. 

Amid expected earnings-driven weakness, investors should keep an eye on the $94 level, an area on the chart that finds support from a three-month horizontal line that sits in close proximity to the 50-day moving average. A close below this key technical level could see the stock test lower support situated around $81.50.

Modine shares were down 9% at $92.31 at around 7:15 a.m. ET.

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