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Food Retailers Need to Press for Continued Debit Card Competition

By: Jennifer Hatcher, Chief Public Policy Officer and Senior Vice President, Government Relations, Food Marketing Institute

FMI understands that operating your business amid the extraordinary growth in government regulation has been challenging. Labor costs, healthcare costs and taxes have increased. You have had to wrestle with getting EMV readers in lanes and working. But grocers have had one solid win—debit reform.

FMI food retailers were leaders in designing legislation that brought transparency, predictability and competition to the debit marketplace in 2010. Now, new legislation is threatening your businesses. What is most concerning is that the bill just passed the Financial Services Committee without a single Democrat vote and several Republican abstentions. Even without bipartisan support, Chairman Jeb Hensarling is pushing to get a vote on the House floor that ultimately only helps the big banks. This bill, H.R. 5983, the “Choice Act”, rolls back the six year old law, taking away competition and our win in debit reform.

Those who follow rate increases witnessed an increase every year before this legislation—with no ability to control it. Before the legislation, you were also being forced to route your transactions through a particular network, eliminating competition that is now providing greater efficiency and lower costs. Those of you wrestling with incredibly slow EMV migration, as well as EMV transactions know firsthand the impact of these bad ideas.

It is time to make it clear to your Member of Congress that you strongly oppose repealing these important debit reforms and that you are watching how they vote on this issue. We hope you will support these efforts by sending a letter in opposition to the legislation we feel is more appropriately called the “No-Choice Act”.

Contact your member of Congress about this issue at

Distribution channels: Food & Beverage Industry