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Joint Op-Ed: Proposed Credit Card Mandates Benefit Corporate Mega-Stores, Not Consumers

| American Banker

WASHINGTON, DC — American Banker recently published an op-ed by American Bankers Association’s (ABA) Rob Nichols, America’s Credit Unions’ Jim Nussle, and Independent Community Bankers of America’s (ICBA) Rebeca Romero Rainey highlighting the harm of the proposed Durbin-Marshall Credit Card Bill.

The trade association leaders warn of the negative consequences for consumers, community banks, and credit unions if Congress enacts proposed routing mandates on credit cards. Nichols, Nussle, and Romero Rainey urge lawmakers to prioritize consumer interests over corporate mega-stores looking to increase their bottom lines.

Together, ABA, America’s Credit Unions, and ICBA represent thousands of local financial institutions in all 50 states, serving members in every community.

The full op-ed is copied below and can be viewed HERE

Proposed credit card fee rules will benefit retailers, not consumers
Rob Nichols Jim Nussle Rebeca Romero Rainey

May 6, 2024

The credit card convenience, security and value you prize is under attack by the country’s largest retailers. If they succeed in their attack, corporate megastores like Walmart and Amazon will see their already substantial profits rise at your expense, and you will see the choices and the card features you love disappear.

Make no mistake, even the smallest banks and credit unions and their customers will not be spared from this misguided campaign. As leaders of associations representing community banks and credit unions in every neighborhood across the United States, we want every American to understand the stakes.

Large corporate stores are working to pass regulations and laws they say will help Main Street but, in reality, would pad the profits of the mega-retailers that have decimated local small businesses for decades. For the past year, these big-box retailers have been focused on passing new credit card rules that would only put more money in their pockets while leaving consumers, community banks and credit unions to foot the bill.

These rules would allow retail businesses to stop doing their part to invest in the secure payment technology and fraud prevention that consumers want and expect. If you have a credit card from a credit union or bank, you know we are heavily invested in keeping your information secure by looking for the best network partner, not the cheapest. When you make a purchase, you can be confident that transaction will be protected by the bank and card network of your choice.

If the mega-store proposals become law, you lose that control. Large retailers will be allowed to undermine everyone’s financial security by processing credit card transactions on the cheapest networks, regardless of customer preference or security. You can guess what type of routing network they will pick when it isn’t their security on the line — and they’re not on the hook to make consumers whole after any fraudulent losses.

These new mandates will not only jeopardize your security — they will also drive up costs for community banks and credit unions across the country. Right now, our institutions support fraud protection, credit card rewards programs and other important offerings by processing and issuing credit cards. Retailers pushing these new rules are using their political allies to avoid paying for the investments, services, convenience and security that allow them to accept credit card payments. They want all the benefits from the nation’s modern payments system that our members have built, without covering any of the cost. They certainly wouldn’t like it if you decided you wanted to use the goods they sell without paying for them.

Retailers, of course, will acknowledge none of this. They paint these rules as a way to save consumers money, but the evidence indicates they will share none of their savings with customers. First, when parallel rules were passed for debit card purchases 10 years ago, retailers gained millions and millions of dollars in profit. Despite the retailers’ promises of lower prices for consumers, prices have gone up steadily over the past decade, and we doubt anybody needs a refresher on where grocery prices are today. Meanwhile, financial institutions were forced to drop some of their programs, which is why you no longer see debit card rewards programs and why free checking is harder to come by.

The retailers pushing this bill will claim that the institutions we represent are exempt from its reach, but the carve-out they tout is meaningless. You cannot let merchants force large banks — and the revenue they currently invest into the payment system — to use one network and expect the safe, sound, secure networks everyone uses today to function with less resources. The institutions we represent will be the ones left paying the difference.

Consumers will see the loss of popular credit card rewards programs while also experiencing more fraud. It’s a double whammy that will especially hurt the budgets of families who are already struggling in this unpredictable economy.

Large chain retailers need to do better and start telling the truth. Their profits are strong, and their prices keep going up — forcing families to work overtime to put dinner on the table and gas in the tank. Our elected officials in Washington, D.C., need to stand up against the lobbying of big retailers and protect Americans who rely on essential and secure financial services.

Rob Nichols
CEO, American Bankers Association

Jim Nussle
President And CEO, America’s Credit Unions

Rebeca Romero Rainey
President And CEO, Independent Community Bankers Of America

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