Credit Card Proposal Inflicts Devastating Harm on Consumers, Main Street America
by Jackson Hataway, President and CEO, Missouri Bankers Association
Ian Dunlap, Executive Director, Missouri Credit Union Association
Matthew Ruge, Executive Director, Missouri Independent Bankers Association
Every day in this country, Americans use credit cards to make payments on everything from groceries to utility bills to back-to-school shopping. Consumers choose credit cards because they are fast, safe and reliable. But some Washington lawmakers are pushing a bill that allows for unnecessary government interference in credit card payment networks, resulting in devastating consequences for Missouri consumers and our local Main Street banks and credit unions.
Some members of Congress support more government interference in our financial system through legislation known as the Credit Card Competition Act. The proposal’s title is deceptive — the bill gives enormous power to government bureaucrats by putting the Federal Reserve Board in charge of America’s credit card system and places a federal mandate on card networks and routing. The bill’s supporters claim it will address the minimal fees that come with credit card transactions. In reality, this legislation props up highly profitable big box retailers while harming Missouri families and financial institutions in our communities.
The fine print shows this legislation requires banks and credit unions to pay for the enormous cost of rewiring how credit cards are processed under the guise of increased competition. But the market is already competitive. There are currently thousands of credit card issuers, many of which are small banks and credit unions. The increased costs stemming from this bill will make it more difficult for them to compete, and some will be driven out of offering credit cards completely. Supporters claim the exemption for small banks and credit unions will protect them, but that is not true. Those staying in the market will be forced to limit or even eliminate popular products like rewards and cashback programs because, as merchants have admitted, banks and credit unions pay for those programs. How would you feel if the government suddenly invalidated your credit card’s rewards points? Missourians have come to rely on those programs to not only save money but as a critical financial tool in times of economic uncertainty.
At the end of the day, this bill means consumers have fewer choices, their access to credit is decreased, and local banks and credit unions are harmed by even more government intervention.
Who benefits from this heavy-handed government action? The country’s biggest box stores and online retailers. These giant companies are posting record sales, and this legislation will further boost their bottom line. Because of their sheer volume of card transactions, they have the most to gain from supporting a government price fixing scheme to lower the fees they pay. Simply put, this bill is yet another example of Washington picking winners and losers. Giant retailers pocket the savings while consumers suffer.
Missourians and our elected officials have made it clear we want less government interference in our lives and more financial autonomy. This bill does just the opposite. Sens. Josh Hawley and Eric Schmitt should vocally oppose this proposal. Missourians and our Main Streets are counting on them.
The Missouri Bankers Association is a statewide trade and professional organization in Jefferson City that represents the interests of 235 banks and savings and loan financial institutions in Missouri. Follow MBA on Twitter at @mobankers.com
The Missouri Credit Union Association is part of the Cornerstone League, the nation’s largest regional credit union trade association that serves more than 700 credit unions in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas. Follow Cornerstone League on Twitter at @CornerstoneCUL
The Missouri Independent Bankers Association is an organization of small and medium-sized banks, locally owned, operated and dedicated to meeting the financial needs of their communities. Follow MIBA on Twitter at @MIBA