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Cheney: CUs back interchange caution

Credit Union National Association (CUNA) President/CEO Bill Cheney in a blog post said that America's credit unions stand with the 13 senators that recently urged the Federal Reserve to allow greater time for consideration of a pending interchange fee proposal.

Sens. David Vitter (R-La.), Thomas Carper (D-Del.), Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Robert Bennett (R-Utah), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), and Bob Corker (R-Tehn.) cosigned a letter that encouraged the Fed to "take sufficient time to gather and analyze all of the relevant facts" before issuing a proposal, and to "ensure that consumer interests are protected" in any rate standards that are set.

The Fed is set to consider proposed rules on debit interchange fees during a Thursday open board meeting. That meeting will take place at 2:30 p.m. ET.

The interchange provisions, which were passed as part of comprehensive financial regulatory legislation earlier this year, direct the Fed to write rules on interchange fees for debit card purchases. While the interchange provision exempts small credit unions and other financial institutions with under $10 billion in assets from any interchange changes, these institutions would still be impacted directly by whatever rates are established.

Cheney also underscored the senators' point that the rule change would result in additional bank fees for consumers, and noted that while the interchange fee amendment exempts financial institutions with under $10 billion in assets from the terms of the rule, smaller institutions would still need to adjust their card programs to remain competitive.

Cheney in his post said that these lower prices "won't pay the freight for credit unions of offering their members debit cards," adding that the cost will likely fall on "the wallets and pockets of the nation's consumers, including the 92 million who are members of credit unions."