Tribe's high-interest online lending venture booms

Dec 26, 2011

HELENA, Mont. — An Indian reservation in Montana may seem an unlikely place to borrow a quick $600.

But the Chippewa Cree tribe says its new online lending company has already given out more than 121,000 loans this year at interest rates that can reach a whopping 360 percent.

As more states pass laws to rein in lenders who deal in high-interest, short-term loans, Indian tribes are stepping in to fill the void.

The Internet lets Plain Green Loans reach beyond Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation, while tribal immunity has allowed the Chippewa Cree to avoid restrictions set by states.

Plain Green Loans CEO Neal Rosette says the loans are a resource for people who can't or won't borrow from banks, and they give the poverty stricken tribe a steady revenue stream.