Today, we’re once again working with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago to put on our annual Financial Literacy Summit. At the event, speakers from around the world will be exploring potential solutions to improve financial literacy and discussing the successes and challenges faced in various countries around the world. This will be the sixth consecutive year that we’ve partnered with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago to co-sponsor the Summit, which helps to mark national Financial Literacy Month and Money Smart Week in Chicago. Highlights of today’s Summit include:
The results of the 2012 Global Financial Literacy Barometer from Visa and Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine. The barometer assesses and ranks the financial literacy levels of people in 28 nations.
The release of Visa’s new, free, comprehensive personal finance high school curriculum called the “Practical Money Skills Course,” which covers subjects such as budgeting, saving, loans, insurance and more.
A panel presentation on original financial education research that explored ways financial knowledge and behavior can be improved.
What do the National Education Association (NEA), NAACP and Wall Street Journal have in common? All three are unified in their concern about the negative impact debit price controls (A.K.A. the Durbin Amendment) may have on consumers – particularly those in underserved communities – small banks and credit unions.
- The NEA, the largest labor union in the U.S., is the latest organization to call on Congress to delay and study debit price controls. In a letter to Congressional leaders, the NEA notes that debit regulation, “could have a significant negative impact on the cost of mainstream banking services to middle and lower-income consumers, including teachers and education support professionals, because of the benefits currently made possible by debit cards.”
- The NEA’s concerns echo those of the NAACP, which recently told House Speaker John Boehner in a letter, “We believe this rule should be thoroughly and expeditiously reviewed prior to implementation…to ensure that it will not raise fees or otherwise harm at-risk communities, including communities of color.”
- Perhaps no single piece sums up the fight against debit price controls better than last week’s Wall Street Journal editorial (“Debit Card Debacle”), that attests the Durbin Amendment, “…threatens the flow of credit to low-income Americans and promises higher fees on bank services for nearly everyone else….Mr. Durbin pitched his bill as pro-consumer but it was really an attempt to rob banks and debit-card issuers in order to pay off his campaign check writers in the retail industry. As usual, the little guy is getting trampled.”
It is clear that when various organizations like the NEA, NAACP and Wall Street Journal are unified in their opposition to legislation our representatives should take notice and take action. We hope Congress will heed the concerns of these organizations and delay implementation. After all, isn’t that the reasonable thing to do?
Read more about the growing momentum behind efforts to delay and study the debit price control regulation in today’s Wall Street Journal.
Yesterday, Congress spent its first full day examining the debit card regulation provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act. It is now clear why proponents rushed the regulation without debate or study. Before the Senate Banking Committee, both Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Chairman Sheila Bair expressed concerns about the unintended consequences the regulation could have on small banks and consumers, respectively. Federal Reserve Board Governor Sarah Raskin also told a House Financial Services Subcommittee that “there are legitimate questions” in terms of how small banks will benefit.
“We are not certain how effective that exemption will be. It is possible that because merchants will reject more expensive cards from smaller institutions or because networks will not be willing to differentiate the interchange fee for issuers of different sizes it is possible that the exemption will not be effective in the marketplace.”
Today, Visa’s General Counsel Josh Floum will testify on the debit card regulation provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act before the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Financial Institutions & Consumer Credit. (Watch the Hearing live here beginning at 10:00 AM EST). We appreciate that the House is dedicating time to discuss this important legislation, which has the potential to harm consumers, small financial institutions and the economy as a whole. And we’re encouraged that this price control legislation finally is being debated after being rushed through last year without committee consideration or even a House vote.
Voices opposing the proposed Federal Reserve rules regulating debit interchange continue to grow louder. Community banks, credit unions, consumer groups, and even Senator Dodd and Representative Frank are concerned that the rules will not actually accomplish their charge and have several unintended consequences. Industry experts continue to challenge these rules as well. Take two op-eds by Eric Grover of Intrepid Ventures and Patti Hewitt of Mercator that were recently published in Digital Transactions.
Grover expresses concerns that the Fed’s rules could turn payment networks into public utilities that will inevitably lead to higher costs and poorer service for consumers and merchants. Patti, for her part, believes that while we won’t know the true effects of Durbin for some time, it’s possible the regulation could cause alternative-payments to collapse if they are regulated.
We hope this growing chorus of voices is considered by members of the 112th Congress.
In an op-ed published today in American Banker, Visa CEO and Chairman of the Board, Joseph Saunders, provides his perspective on the new debit card regulations proposed by the Federal Reserve. The proposed regulations have been widely criticized by a variety of diverse interests, including analysts, large and small financial institutions, and even the sponsors of the Financial Reform bill, Senator Dodd and Representative Frank.
In the op-ed, Saunders notes that the hastily adopted rules create significant unintended consequences that will ultimately harm consumers and the economy. Moreover, the regulations will pose a direct threat to financial institutions of all sizes. This is because the so-called carve-out exception for community banks and credit unions is illusory, as the regulations provide merchants with the ability to route transactions as they see fit. So, as Saunders writes, “Though smaller institutions are theoretically exempt from the fee rules, market forces created by the law will drive volume toward lower rates, negating any benefit intended by the exemption.”
With so much at stake in these draft rules, Saunders calls on the 112th Congress to re-examine the proposed regulations so unintended consequences do not become a reality. Read the full op-ed.
In one of his strongest public comments made to-date questioning the debit card provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act, today House Financial Services Committee Ranking Member Barney Frank (D-MA) made the following comments in an interview with Reuters Television(note, the relevant parts of the interview start around the 2:40 minute mark).
“I do think it [debit card regulation provisions] has to be amended. I do think the way it is written, the full cost recovery for financial institutions isn’t there. So I would not repeal it totally. I would like to have it amended, so it’s clear the financial institutions that are administering this get the full cost. I think the way the law is written now that’s one flaw, that they may not be able to get that.”
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal published earlier today, Senator Dodd tells the Wall Street Journal that “[the ‘interchange’ proposal dealing with credit and debit card fees paid by retailers] is maybe one where the Fed is overreaching.”