ATM Industry Association (ATMIA) leadership met last week with legislators and staff to address concerns over a variety of issues.
ATMIA USA Executive Director, David Tente, and Kurt Helwig, ATMIA Executive Board member and President and CEO of the EFTA, discussed the continuing and destructive impact of “Operation Choke Point” with Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R - MO). Luetkemeyer’s bill, the Financial Institutions Customer Protections Act (H.R. 766), passed later that morning on a vote of 250 to 169.
H.R. 766 seeks to eliminate the abuse of “Operation Choke Point” to deny legitimate businesses access to the nation’s banking and payment systems. Although it was intended to serve as a tool to fight money-laundering and other criminal activities, it has been used to shut down ATM operators and other cash intensive-businesses.
“The ATM industry greatly appreciates Rep. Luetkemeyer’s efforts in this matter,” says Tente. “Most legislators don’t understand that ATMs are not a very efficient or effective tool for laundering money. Yet, we see ATM operators losing 20-year-old banking relationships due to threats of additional audits and crushing oversight from regulators.”
ATMIA also expressed concerns over recent comments from legislators and Presidential candidates calling for increased regulation of ATM fees. The national average for convenience fees charged by non-bank operators is already less than that assessed by banks - suggesting that market forces are working well.
Additional calls for requiring disclosure of overdraft, out-of-network, and other bank fees at the ATM - even non-bank ATMs - are worrisome for all ATM operators, processors, and networks. They ignore the fact that such transparency would require a major redevelopment of all related systems, as well as create privacy issues. And, banks often don’t know at the moment of the transaction what other fees might be assessed (e.g. if ‘x’ free transactions are allowed each month).