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Interchange steering informant site launched by CUNA
WASHINGTON (9/22/11)--New debit interchange fee cap regulations, which become effective on Oct. 1, prohibit merchants from discriminating against credit union issued cards, and the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) is helping credit unions report any instances of discrimination—generally referred to as “steering”-- through a new website. The site, which was added to the members-only section of cuna.org, allows credit unions to report any instances of merchants tampering with the purchase process, or favoring other forms of payment over credit union debit cards. A website submission form provides space for credit unions to record the name and location of the merchant in question, the type of card involved, the name and location of the credit union affected, and any comments on the merchant/consumer interaction, among other things. Any information reported to CUNA on the site will remain confidential, and the names of the credit unions involved will not be disclosed, but relevant portions of the reports may be shared with state credit union leagues and depending on the problem, may also be reported to the National Credit Union Administration or state regulators. Reports will also be used in CUNA discussions with the Federal Reserve about the impact the agency’s interchange rules has on credit unions. In addition to reporting to CUNA, affected credit unions should also report instances of discrimination involving Visa or MasterCard, directly to those networks through online forms provided by each network. Once a credit union has submitted its report to CUNA, CUNA’s website will direct the user to the web address for the appropriate network’s complaint form. CUNA on the site reminds credit unions that new interchange regulations do not allow merchants to steer their customers toward using certain cards or to refuse to accept, or frustrate the acceptance of debit cards due to the fact they were issued by credit unions or small issuers not subject to the debit interchange transaction fee cap. However, CUNA notes, merchants may provide discounts to consumers based on how they pay for a good or service, such as by cash, debit card or credit card. The site adds that CUNA has not heard of any evidence that any merchants are disfavoring credit union debit cards or that they plan to do so in the future. CUNA also continues to work with the networks in an effort to insure credit unions’ debit card interchange fee income is preserved, as much as possible. For the members-only site, use the resource link.


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