On Tuesday, the United States Senate passed H.R. 4367 by unanimous consent. The bill eliminates the requirement under the Electronic Fund Transfer Act that ATMs carry a physical disclosure of potential fees on the outside of the machine. According to CUNA, President Obama is expected to sign the legislation into law.
The bill's passage marked the highlight of a turbulent week for both credit unions and community banks, which both saw key legislation die - at least for the moment - in a flurry of Senate maneuvers and points-of-order. For credit unions, prospects for getting the Member Business Lending cap raised seemed to dim as the proposal never made it to the Senate floor.
Meanwhile, community banks saw the extension of the Transaction Account Guarantee (TAG) bill approved by the Senate only to be killed Thursday on a budget point-of-order. Credit unions, along with a host of other consumer groups, opposed TAG.
While this week's developments appeared on the surface to be bad news for both credit unions and banks, CUNA advised that Member Business Lending could see new life in the final days of the lame duck session. “Congress will be in session for at least another week and a half – this isn’t over until it’s over,” Cheney said in an article in the Credit Union Times. Cheney added in the article that credit unions would continue their attempts to attach MBL to a year-end legislative package, while fiercely opposing TAG.
Meanwhile, the ATM bill’s passage eliminates a regulatory burden and a potential liability for credit unions, according to CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney. "With Tuesday's Senate action, the way is clear for credit union ATMs to no longer have to carry a physical disclosure notifying consumers of the potential imposition of fees for use of the machine," he said in a story in Wednesday’s CUNA NewsNow.
According to NewsNow, bill came into being as the result of a CUNA/league-sponsored "Hike the Hill" event, in which a credit union CEO mentioned the issue to CUNA staff. CUNA and credit unions noted that outside notices on ATMs were, in some cases, being intentionally removed or destroyed without the financial institution's knowledge. Perpetrators would then take pictures of the vandalized ATM, and allege the financial institution was not in compliance with disclosure rules.
The bill quickly gained support since ATMs already provide an electronic disclosure to members, thus eliminating the need for a physical disclosure. “This is a tangible win for credit unions since it removes a regulatory burden while continuing the same level of service and information to members,” said Dan Schline, NCCUL SVP of Association Services.
In other developments, the House approved H.R. 5817, the Eliminate Privacy Notice Confusion Act this week. The bill, which would eliminate the requirement for financial institutions to send an annual privacy notice unless the policies actually change, now heads to the Senate. CUNA is supportive of this legislation since it reduces the regulatory burden on credit unions.
Schline notes that the flurry of activity is likely to continue in Washington as the lame duck session winds to a close. "We appreciate the advocacy work credit unions in NC have done throughout the year, and encourage folks to stay tuned through the remainder of the session. Things can change very quickly, and we may yet have an opportunity to activate the grassroots network on MBL in the next several days."