Floridians were hit hard by the pandemic and most recently by Hurricane Ian. At Eglin Federal Credit Union (EFCU), we have been and will continue to work to provide affordable financial services so that families and businesses across Northwest Florida can flourish. We are focused on ensuring Floridians maintain access to the resources they need to get through the economic hardship and inflation we are currently facing.
Beyond the challenges we feel here at home and across the country, leaders in Washington are currently considering legislation that would further harm consumers and take more money out of their pocket. Right now, Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Roger Marshall (R-KS) are working to weaken the security of our payments system and control consumer choice in what they have labeled the Credit Card Competition Act of 2022.
While supporters of this legislation claim it would bring down the cost consumers pay at the store by limiting the already small fees that merchants pay when they accept credit card transactions, historical data shows this is a failed policy.
Following the implementation of the original Durbin Amendment, which sought to regulate debit card interchange fees, a Richmond Fed report found that 98% of merchants did not pass savings from debit regulation to consumers and over 20% of merchants actually increased prices. Furthermore, this mandate resulted in the disappearance of many card rewards programs like airline miles and cash back that Americans of all income levels have come to enjoy.
Unfortunately, champions for this legislation are now looking to attach this bill to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Efforts to attach non-germane amendments like this one to the NDAA will rob military families of access to affordable credit. When retailers choose cheaper networks that may not have invested in the latest security technology, consumer payment data may become vulnerable to foreign networks.
At a time when our country is battling soaring inflation and we are under constant cyber-attack, we simply cannot afford more expensive products combined with less secure networks.
When our Credit Union was chartered in 1954, we made it our mission to serve America’s heroes. Our membership includes military and civilian personnel on Eglin Air Force Base, Hurlburt Field, and Duke Field, affiliates of select employee groups in Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, and Walton Counties, and anyone living, working, worshipping, or attending school within our geographic field of membership.
At EFCU, we have always strived to support our local communities, especially those who serve and protect us. Our team is fully committed to making a positive difference in the lives of members and in our communities. While our membership has expanded, our focus has always remained the same: Where Members Matter Most.
We will always advocate against legislation that seeks to hinder the financial success of our members, and we implore members of Congress to reject efforts to advance interchange legislation.
As this legislation has not received proper review by the respective committees of jurisdiction, there should be immediate questions about the true intentions of this bill. Efforts to force expensive routing mandates onto Americans through defense legislation should be a red flag to anyone considering this harmful bill.
Contrary to its title, this bill will not increase competition in the credit card marketplace. Rather, this bill will benefit mega-retailers at the expense of consumers and community financial institutions like EFCU who exist to serve our military members and their families.
Jerry Williams is the President and CEO of Eglin Federal Credit Union, where he has worked to support and grow membership for more than 27 years.