Paige Skiba (Vanderbilt Law School) and Jeremy Tobacman (Oxford), "The Profitability of Payday Loans":
Payday loans provide households with expensive, short-term liquidity. This paper studies the profitability of payday lending using standard .nancial data from CRSP and SEC filings and loan-level data from a payday lender. Despite charging e¤ective annualized rates of many percent, we find lenders' firm-level returns differ little from typical financial returns. The data are consistent with an interpretation that payday lenders face high per-loan and per-store fixed costs in a competitive market.
I'd bet a similar analysis applies to the rent-to-own industry.