Cab Industry On Verge Of Collapse? Capital One's Taxi NPL Rate Soars Above 50%

Having abandoned its venture to lend out roughly $1 billion to legacy Taxi "Medallion" drivers and businesses some two years ago, and shifting its backing over to Uber resulting in many unhappy drivers as well as a handful of lawsuits, Capital One has nonetheless provided a useful spotlight into the troubled state of the traditional "yellow cab" industry by breaking out the details of its runoff commercial taxi medallion loan portfolio in its quarterly reports.

And according to the latest, just released report (in which COF incidentally missed both the top and the bottom line, reported EPS and revenue of $1.45 and $6.60 billion, both below expectations), the US taxicab industry must be on the verge of collapse, because in COF's Q4 report, the company reported that while the size of its runoff Medallion "held for investment" loans tumbled by $83 million from $773MM to $690MM, it was the surge in the nonperforming loan rate that was the stunner: surging from 38.8% in Q3 to a whopping 51.5% in Q4, it suggests that legacy cab drivers in the US are not only barely making money, but are in financial dire straits.

Of course, the irony is that the Medallion industry's biggest nemesis, Uber, is likewise burning through billions in venture capital cash every year in hopes of putting its legacy competitor out of business. And, if these Capital One numbers are any indication, it may soon succeed.