The Electronic Transactions Association's 2022 Legislative and Regulatory Policy Priorities, published Jan. 7, 2022, in three distinct documents, encourages Canadian and U.S. state and federal lawmakers to craft policies that support innovation. Describing the payments industry as "innovative, dynamic, competitive and highly regulated," the documents share insights on industrywide efforts to make payments safe, secure and financially inclusive. ETA CEO Jodie Kelley described the association's ongoing dialogues with policymakers as constructive and enlightening. "So much of our engagement with policymakers is educational, explaining how our ecosystem works and how it benefits consumers and merchants," she said.
Amendments to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) may help small and midsize businesses survive post-pandemic challenges, government sources noted. The sweeping revisions include an Employee Retention Credit (ERC), designed for SMBs that kept employees on the payroll despite their own economic hardships. Heidi Chan, CFO at Access One Solutions, stated the ERC is meant to help offset some of the costs that her company and other employers incurred when keeping staff employed during the pandemic.
"For some employers that were not able to qualify or obtain a PPP loan, the ERC credit could be a big help," she said. "Our industry caters to other businesses; when they were forced to close or their business decreased, it directly affected our income."
Consumer interest in buy now, pay later programs has exploded in recent years, and credit reporting agencies are taking notice. Equifax, one of three main credit bureaus in the United States, heralded what it said is the industry's first policy for including these short-term financing alternatives in calculations of consumers' credit scores.
The new policy is expected to kick in during the first quarter of this year. This is potentially good news for consumers and BNPL companies alike. Equifax reported that a study of anonymized consumer data from BNPL providers suggests consumers who make on-time BNPL payments can increase their FICO scores by between 13 and 21 points.
Emboldened by Amazon's recent threat to pull the plug on Visa cards issued in the United Kingdom, a group representing U.S. retailers is urging U.S. policymakers to "find a way" to help bring down interchange fees. "U.S. merchants large and small are closely watching the Amazon-Visa developments in the UK and hope that U.S. policymakers are doing the same," the Merchants Payments Coalition stated in a letter sent to leaders of the House and Senate Banking Committees.
The MPC includes trade groups representing all manner of merchants "focused on reforming the U.S. payments system to make it more transparent and competitive," the coalition's website states. It is commonly believed to have coined the term "swipe fees" to describe interchange.
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