A growing coalition of consumers and merchant services professionals is spearheading a campaign for a National Cash Only Day, in protest of the Durbin Amendment to the financial reform bill recently approved by Congress.
The amendment allows the Federal Reserve to place limits on debit card interchange fees and has prompted worries that it will open the way for the broader regulation of interchange.
The impromptu holiday will span the entirety of Labor Day Weekend, from Sept 4 to 6, 2010. Its organizers are calling on consumers to forgo credit and debit cards for the holiday weekend and pay only with cash, in the hope that it will call attention to the sometimes taken-for-granted benefits of card payment and acceptance.
"I think the idea is for mainstream America to realize how important the convenience of accepting a credit card is," said Scott Wagner, President of GO Direct Merchant Services Inc. Wagner, who joined the campaign via its Facebook page and is promoting the effort through emails, said the long-term goal of the movement is to combat the trend toward interchange regulation.
National Cash Only Day will help underscore the convenience of multiple payment choices, the safety of minimizing in-store cash deposits and the increased sales volumes brought by card payments, according to Wagner.
He believes merchants who decry the costs of card acceptance overlook the ways that taking cards contribute to their bottom line.
"For the Circle K's and 7-Eleven's of the world who were out in front of this stupid legislation saying how much [interchange] has hurt their pocket, the idea is really to go into a Circle K, go pump some gas but don't pay at the pump," Wagner said. "Go inside and use cash, because that's not what they want, they're all about speed.
"Someone goes in and pays with cash, then another person and another person - as many as we can get in and through the better - and all of a sudden they might lose 20 percent of their business."
Wagner said National Cash Only Day organizers are spreading word of the event through emails, online forums and other social media channels. But there remains the considerable challenge of notifying the mainstream public, he added.
"Therein lies the challenge," he said. "This thing, in my opinion, needs to go viral, and it hasn't yet. So I'm looking for someone to pick this up and run with it, because it's important."
According to the National Cash Only Day Facebook page, the movement's goal is to attract at least 5 million consumers to oppose the Durbin Amendment. To view the page, go to www.causes.com/causes/495235/about?m=cfc9554f.
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