The National ATM Council (NAC) has done a tremendous amount of research, lobbying, and advocating for the retail ATM industry over the last few years in Washington D.C. I have had the benefit of attending their last two annually organized meetings and have appreciated learning how the process works in D.C.
A few weeks ago I attended the latest lobbying meeting, and I want to share my view on what the process is like, what I feel has been accomplished so far, and also shed some light on how you can help.
ATM History Timeline
The Lobbying Process
If you’re wondering what the process is like when you meet with Senate and House representatives, it really is no different than many business meetings you’ve been in before, but there is a careful effort weeks and months in advance of meetings to decide the strategy beforehand on who should meet with whom, what topics will be discussed, and most importantly what legislation we are seeking support for, or what are the ‘asks’ or takeaways from the meetings will be.
Washington is a tough place to make progress these days, but I’ve certainly learned that anything worth fighting for in life doesn’t come easy. For example, in 2017, there was a great bill for the Retail ATM Industry called The Financial Institution Consumer Protection Act that passed overwhelmingly in the House but has since stalled in the Senate.
NAC and OptConnect continue to support efforts to get parts of the Consumer Protection Act written into recent legislation like Congressman Ed Pearlmutter’s SAFE Banking Act of 2019.
What Was Accomplished This Year
In many meetings this year there were several great businesses represented and our country’s lawmakers heard first hand from all of us about the seemingly endless merry-go-round that many IAD’s are facing from banks. Bank account closures for these types of businesses are becoming more and more frequent, and often banks give no legitimate reason as to why the accounts have been closed.
There could be many reasons for banks to have uneasiness these days. Many larger banks are still feeling aftershocks from the 2007-08 Financial Crisis, but with the vast amount of bank closures we’ve seen in this industry, many think that the banks are lumping ATM owner/operators in with businesses targeted in 2013’s Operation Choke Point even though the ATM Industry has been cleared from these labels several times!
This is a misunderstood issue and is one that OptConnect and the NAC tried to clean up this year, and left behind several points in each meeting about the best practices that made it adamantly clear there is a closed-loop system for the vault cash-settlement process.
Careful planning and support for this year’s meetings led us to ask representatives for support of two things:
- Support for H.R. 2650, “The Payment Choice Act of 2019
- An amendment to the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) to clarify that the CRA obligates banks to provide deposit services, not just credit services, to their communities
As OptConnect has customers all over the nation, I helped in meetings from several states this year. I had the opportunity to participate in meetings with staff for Senator Mike Lee R-UT, Cindy Axne (IA-03-D), Ben McAdams D-UT, Senator Mike Rounds R-SD, Senator Kyrsten Sinema D-AZ, Rob Bishop R-UT, and Senator Ben Cardin D-MD.
How Can You Help?
Senators, Congress Representatives, and Staffers all mentioned that a critical component is hearing from constituents (you and me) in their respective states. Please feel free to fill out the form in this link and make sure to write your representatives about this issue and ask for support of the legislation above.
While the progress can sometime feel slow, we are fully commited to doing all we can to support ATM industry organizations like NAC and the legislation that will benefit the entire industry collectively. If we all rally together, we can be a louder and united voice to represent the needs and interests of the industry as a whole. We are stronger together and OptConnect will be there to help ensure that the health of the ATM industry improves through our collective efforts.