Friday, June 4, 2010

Hike the Hill for Interchange

From CUNA News Now, 6/4/2010:

Interchange efforts increase ahead of next week's hill hike

WASHINGTON (6/4/10)—With the number of responses to the Credit Union National Association's (CUNA) call for grassroots interchange advocacy totaling over 150,000 as of Thursday night, credit unions and credit union leagues also are working to urge their federal lawmakers to block interchange language from a financial regulatory reform package.

The House and Senate are currently working toward resolving differences between their respective versions of financial regulatory reform bills. The Senate bill proposes to allow government intervention in setting interchange fees, while the House bill has no interchange language.

Among the many leagues working to positively change the financial regulatory reform package are groups from Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, California and Oklahoma.

The Ohio Credit Union League has noted the more than 7,000 contacts with Ohio congressmen and women that have been made by over 2,300 leaders from 91 Ohio credit unions. The Madison Chapter of the Wisconsin Credit Union League last week ran a full-page, open letter to debit card users in the Wisconsin State Journal and has also taken to social networking websites such as Facebook to encourage "friends" to fight the new interchange regulations.

The Pennsylvania League has also highlighted the efforts of Hershey FCU, Patriot FCU, American Heritage FCU, Guthrie FCU, Erie FCU, and PSECU, and encouraged its member credit unions to "inundate district offices with letters, phone calls, and faxes" and to oppose interchange changes by directly speaking with their congressional representatives at local appearances.

Sen. Richard Durbin's (D-Ill.) interchange proposal, which would direct the Federal Reserve to issue regulations to govern interchange fees charged for debit card transactions, continues to receive critical press. The Washington Times was among the latest news source to speak against interchange changes, with a Wednesday editorial warning readers that Durbin's amendment is "aimed at your wallet."

"Inevitably," the editorial adds, the costs of running debit card programs "will be shifted from merchants to consumers."

CUNA continues to encourage all state credit union leagues to coordinate with their member credit unions to ensure that their D.C.-based representatives are informed of the dangers that interchange legislation poses to credit unions and to promote participation in next week's Hike the Hill, which will give credit union leagues and employees direct access to their elected representatives.