Mica Says Interchange Fight is a Long Shot, But Worth Pursuing
Saying while he is "not confident we can win this but that doesn't mean we shouldn't do our best," CUNA President/CEO Dan Mica today encouraged credit union members to come to Washington for a two-day lobbying effort next month to remove an amendment on interchange fees from the regulatory overhaul bill.
On a conference call, Mica said that in meetings with lawmakers in their states and districts next week and in Washington during the fly-in on June 8 and June 9 participants "can't be mean and nasty" and noted that this "isn't like the tea party rallies, and we can't stand up and scream."
A conference committee will begin meeting next month to reconcile the House- and Senate-passed bills.
Mica recommended that people tell lawmakers that the amendment could cost credit unions at least $15 to $35 per card, and they should also point out that the amendment was passed by the Senate during the final stages of the debate.
The amendment authorizes the Federal Reserve to ensure that debit card fees are "reasonable and proportional," in relation to processing costs. It excludes credit unions and community banks with assets of less than $10 billion. It also allows merchants to set a minimum or maximum amount for each transaction and let them offer additional discounts for using a certain type of card or cash.
NAFCU has continued its grass roots efforts to defeat the amendment and is encouraging its members to lobby lawmakers both in their districts and in Washington and will also have members coming to Washington following next week's congressional recess.
Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), who sponsored the interchange amendment, today wrote a letter to the CEOs of MasterCard and Visa urging them not to threaten small banks and credit unions that passage of his amendment would result in higher fees.
"The only way that small banks or credit union could experience interchange rate reductions or be discriminated against is if your companies decide to cut small bank interchange rates and rescind your operating rules that currently prohibit discrimination between card-issuing banks," he wrote.
Durbin added if VISA and MasterCard coordinate punitive actions they would be engaging in restraint of trade.