MANA President Pushes For Interchange Fee Reform

Jan 26, 2010, 19:26 ET from MANA: A National Latina Organization

Says rising interchange fees are hurting consumers, particularly in challenging economic times

WASHINGTON, Jan. 26 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Following yesterday's California General Assembly's hearing on interchange fees, Alma Morales Riojas, President of MANA, A National Latina Organization headquartered in Washington, D.C., issued the following statement pushing for interchange fee reform.  Riojas says that excessive interchange fees hurt businesses but they also hurt consumers -- because many businesses are forced to pass along the fees to their customers in the form of higher prices.  

"I'm encouraged that the California General Assembly is examining an issue that affects us all -- rising interchange fees.  Credit card companies and their issuing banks charge businesses, and anyone else who accepts credit and debit cards, a fee every time plastic is accepted as a form of payment.  At first glance, this hidden expense seems innocuous, but there is more to the issue than the surface reveals.

"As consumers, it's important that we have the option to use plastic.  However, the fee merchants are currently charged to offer this convenience has been steadily increasing and merchants say the fee has long passed the point of being excessive.  As a result, all consumers are paying the price, literally.  

"Conservative estimates from the Hispanic Institute report that lower income Americans transfer billions of dollars to higher income Americans every year because of hidden credit and debit card fees on goods and services of every type, including necessities of life such as gas, groceries and clothing.  

"This has gone on for far too long.  Credit card companies need to charge merchants an interchange fee rate that is more reflective of the true cost of transaction processing.

"While these fees have gone relatively unnoticed by Congress to date, I believe this issue must be addressed immediately. I urge our Senators and Representatives to take note of the issue that is being recognized in California and urge them to reform interchange fees. It's not just businesses being harmed -- it's all of us."

MANA, A National Latina Organization, is a nonprofit advocacy organization headquartered in Washington, DC.  With chapters across the country, it is the oldest national Latina membership organization in the United States.  MANA, whose mission is to empower Latinas through leadership development, community service and advocacy, envisions a national community of informed Latina activists working to improve the quality of life for all Hispanics.  MANA also has the only national Latina mentoring program for girls 11-18, HERMANITAS®, which brings over 100 girls each year to a Washington, DC, Latina leadership institute that includes educational activities at the White House, on Capitol Hill, and at the Pentagon.

SOURCE MANA: A National Latina Organization