GAC attendees get insights into interchange, economy, more

Monday’s agenda at the 2024 Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) concluded with an afternoon of breakout sessions, covering hot topics such as artificial intelligence, the economy, and interchange. Here are a few highlights:

Industry leaders explore interchange advocacy priorities

A panel of eight industry  leaders led an important discussion about interchange – one of the highest priorities for the America’s Credit Unions’ Advocacy Team.

The group detailed how this issue got to where it is today – starting with the 2010 Durbin Amendment – and what the advocacy goals are moving forward.

The panel included America’s Credit Unions’ Jason Stverak, Brad Thaler, James Akin, and Madison Rose, VISA Vice President of State Relations Paul Russinoff, Cornerstone Director of Research Glenn Grossman, League of Southeastern Credit Unions Vice President of Advocacy Sydney Seral, and Cygnal Vice President of Polling Brock McCleary, and was moderated by America’s Credit Unions’ Richard Gose.

The panelists reviewed the so-called Credit Card Competition Act, which aims to extend the Durbin Amendment’s debit interchange network routing requirements to also cover credit cards, and explained what GAC attendees must flag for lawmakers in meetings this week. “We need you to drive home that this bill is basically the merchants not wanting to pay the cost of doing business,” said Gose.

“We call it the Big Box Bail Out Bill because… who benefits? The big box retailers that are just looking for another bail out,” added Thaler.

In addition, the group explained that this fight will not be going away easily. “What can’t be done here in D.C., they will try in a large city to in a small town,” said Stverak. Russinoff and Seral illustrated this fact by highlighting state-level legislation that has started to gain traction and “advance in a new way.”

To close, the panelists offered attendees tips to help give the most compelling message to lawmakers in meetings on the Hill this week. “You have to remind them that, if given an opportunity, merchants will not pass the savings on to consumers,” said Stverak. “You can’t bank on good intentions.”

America’s Credit Unions stands strongly opposed to the Big Box Bailout Bill, and any other policies that would make changes to interchange caps to benefit the biggest retailers.

Economists cover forecast

America’s Credit Unions’ economists examined the economic forecast, as well as developments in the macroeconomy, and how those developments will affect credit unions and their members.

“In conversations we have with credit unions, cost of funds is at the forefront, the money costs are really starting to bite into earnings,” said America’s Credit Unions’ Curt Long. “Despite what we’ve said about maybe some potential for rate cuts later this year, you’re probably not going to see the relief from that in terms of funding costs until maybe 2025.”

The economists also provided a look into how the team supports credit union advocacy.

“We are here to provide data for our advocacy efforts,” said America’s Credit Unions’ Mike Schenk. “We want to be able to tell anybody who will listen. Policymakers, consumers, the press, we want to tell everyone what credit unions are all about, how they can benefit from credit unions, and the transformative power of financial cooperatives.

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