March 31st, 2009 by Jamie Estep
Credit card interchange vote tomorrow
Much to the surprise of the merchant account industry, the congressional bill proposing to regulate interchange, is being attached to the credit reform act and is potentially being voted on tomorrow. Although the interchange regulation bill is related to credit cards and the credit industry, it has nothing to do with the credit reform act, and is an irresponsible means of passing an already poorly supported bill. The US Government Accountability Office, the US Justice Department, the American Banking Association, and the Federal Trade Commission have all directly warned congress against regulating interchange. To not even have a real vote on the bill is simply irresponsible governing.
Bloggers and advocacy groups like the NRF argue that this bill will level the playing field when it comes to processing costs. This may be true for huge retailers like Walmart, but will almost certainly reduce the quality of processing services to the small business in addition to a much greater overall cost. Just name a situation where government regulation ends in better quality services at a lower cost…
The argument against interchange has been fought by twisting the reality in what interchange is, who it goes to, why it’s charged, all by large corporations and angry merchants. While the US has some of the highest interchange costs in the world, we also have the lowest overall processing costs, the lowest setup cost, and by far the highest quality services in the world. In some countries, you would have to pay over a thousand dollars just to get setup processing credit cards, and your monthly bill could easily be double for the exact same services, all with lower interchange. Creating a non-competitive environment like the one proposed by regulating interchange, will create a situation much like the one described above.
I urge anyone in the processing industry, and anyone that stands against huge corporations like Walmart leveraging the government and small business owners to fight a cause that hurts everyone, to contact their representation.