Retailers Lobbying to Avoid Paying Fair Share of Plastic Card Payment System

National credit union movement leaders say that the D.C. retail lobby is misleading congress and consumers as it pushes to cap interchange fees needed to keep the card payment system functional, affordable and safe.

National credit union movement leaders say that the D.C. retail lobby is misleading congress and consumers as it pushes to cap interchange fees needed to keep the card payment system functional, affordable and safe.

And should those efforts prove successful, according to Washington Credit Union League President & CEO John Annaloro, not only would consumers get stuck picking up the tab, but credit unions would likely be forced to eliminate low-cost consumer-oriented programs.

“Retailers want a free ride for utilizing a service that has proven to increase their business profits,” says Annaloro. “In addition, this unstudied and undebated proposal would pressure small financial institutions, including community banks and credit unions, to institute fees on products where none existed before.”

As a result, the national credit union movement has been mobilized in a massive grassroots lobbying effort of its own to push back on the proposal and convince Congress to remove it altogether.

Both the Senate and the House passed their own versions of the regulatory reform bill. The Senate version includes the interchange provision; the House version does not. Conferees have been appointed to negotiate the differences between the two bills, and while none of the conferees are from Washington state, they will look to their colleagues for guidance on the interchange issue.

The Washington Credit Union League and the Credit Union National Association are asking all of the state’s credit unions to mobilize their staff, volunteers and members in opposition to the Durbin Interchange Amendment.

“Not since HR 1151 has it been so important to contact your Federal Representatives on such a critical credit union issue,” says Washington Credit Union League Vice President of Legislative Affairs Mark Minickiello. “Credit unions are the only industry with enough credibility to beat this amendment back, however much of a long-shot that might be.”

The League, therefore, has asked all of the state’s credit unions to act by:

  • Contacting their legislators today and tell them to oppose changes to the current interchange system.  Use CapWiz to send a quick, prewritten letter by going to: capwiz.com/cuna/home/, or by sending legislators a message by dialing its hotline number: 1.877.223.5275.
  • Asking staff and board members to do the same!  Urge 100 percent credit union staff participation;
  • Participate in local meetings or town halls with their Members of Congress. The League will be sending out participation information as they are organized;
  • Considering traveling to D.C. for a last-minute fly-in scheduled for June 9 (there will be an organizational meeting on the evening of June 8);
  • Contacting MEMBERS! This issue will affect them! Each Washington credit union should engage at least 3 percent of their members;
    • Send an email to members urging them to contact their Members of Congress on this issue.
    • Place a web sticker on their web site directing your members to CapWiz, which will allow them to send a quick message to their elected officials.
  • Being prepared to talk to local media outlets. The League will be doing outreach to try to interest them in this story.

“We want credit unions to ally their staff, volunteers, and members and ask them to contact their representatives and tell them to take the Interchange Amendment out of the regulatory reform bill,” says Minickiello.

Read the full alert, and contact your Congressperson.

Contact Mark Minickiello for more information at [email protected] or 206.340.4812.