On-Site Coverage: Bank, CU Trades Team Up on Interchange Ad
WASHINGTON — In the lobbying equivalent of the Yankees and Red Sox joining forces, the heads of the two biggest credit union trade associations and the two largest bank groups convened in a Washington restaurant Wednesday night to show off a new TV ad aimed at urging lawmakers to delay the new interchange rule.
The ad, which will air on broadcast and cable stations in the Washington, D.C. area, talks about the domino effect on consumers from the “$12 billion payday’’ that Congress gave retailers when it mandated that the Fed write a rule limiting interchange fees.
Trish Wexler, a spokeswoman for the Electronics Payments Coalition, declined to say how much money they are spending on the ad buy but said they hope to run the ads “until we win the fight.’’ The Federal Reserve rule is supposed to take effect in July but there are bills in the House and Senate that would delay the implementation.
NAFCU President/CEO Fred Becker said the rule would hurt credit union members by depriving them of options. He said 65% of credit unions his group surveyed said they are likely to end free checking and 67% said they would impose annual fees on their debit cards.
CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney said while retailers have said the small banks and credit unions are doing the bidding of the banks, that’s not the case. “I represent the vast majority of credit unions and I am here in their interest,’’ Cheney said.
Independent Community Bankers of America President/CEO Cam Fine said the Durbin Amendment, which mandated the Fed rule, should be called the “consumer harm amendment’’ because it will make things more expensive for consumers. He added that “the system isn’t broken.’’
American Bankers Association President/CEO Frank Keating noted that the podium was in front of a portrait of President James Buchanan, who Keating said was one of the nation’s worst presidents and whose policies set the nation backward.
“The Federal Reserve rule will also take us back to the past,’’ he predicted. “It creates a system of price fixing and this is an abomination.’’