CUNA President: Beware of Retailer Sneak Attack on Interchange Bill

Learn why CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle says credit unions must be wary of of a sneak attack from retailers on credit card interchange legislation.

David Baumann


Aug 16



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David Baumann

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David Baumann

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Credit union trade group leader Jim Nussle discusses potential impact of legislation, breaks down CUNA–NAFCU merger.

Credit card interchange legislation will only pass Congress this year if lawmakers tuck it into some unrelated must-pass legislation, CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle warned, in a new podcast episode.

On NAFCU’s Credit Union Policy Podcast, Nussle said that credit unions are succeeding in telling lawmakers that the changes should be rejected.

“We’re doing well, but we’ve got to be aware of the sneak attack,” he told podcast host Ann Petros, NAFCU’s vice president of regulatory affairs.

Backstory and Context

The interchange legislation would require the Federal Reserve to issue rules that would ensure that large credit unions and banks that currently use the four-party card processing system be required to use at least one affiliated network in addition to Visa and Mastercard.

Congress will be considering several bills that are considered must-pass—ranging from government funding to the annual defense authorization measure. Lawmakers regularly try to add unrelated matters to such bills, with the legislation often derided as “Christmas Tree” measures.

Inside the Episode

Nussle took aim at large, chain store retailers who are lobbying in favor of the measure and argue it would create more competition and drive down costs.

“To hear the big-box retailers coming in and using the small retailers, the small businesses on Main Street as their human shield is atrocious,” he said, adding that retailers have not passed on to consumers any savings from interchange rules governing debit cards.


Nussle spent much of the podcast touting the recently announced merger between CUNA and NAFCU, noting that the two groups have been working more closely together during the past year. If the deal is approved by the membership of both groups, Nussle would become the first president/CEO of America’s Credit Unions.

As a former House member from Iowa, Nussle calls himself a “recovering politician,” and explained that in the next few weeks he will be traveling to 12 states to meet with credit union leaders to ask them to vote in favor of the merger.

“Having been, as I said, a recovering officeholder myself, the doors you knock on are pretty important, but the one you miss is a vote you missed,” he said.

How the New Trade Group Will Look

Further discussing the merger, Nussle said that leaders of both organizations want to establish “one coordinated voice” for the credit union industry. That is particularly important now, he told Petros, as “the policymaking process is getting more complicated, sometimes more dysfunctional.”

The new trade group is intended to develop “impactful, relentless advocacy,” he added, noting that many banks no longer are interested in making consumer loans. “We are the small, community lender,” he said. “The others have left. They’re just not there.”

That story, according to Nussle, is one credit unions and their advocates need to do a better job of telling.

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