Opinion: beware of changes to the US e-commerce system | Chroniclers


As a longtime business owner and deeply committed to Montana’s economic prosperity, I know firsthand how difficult it can be to adapt to rapidly changing markets and daily demands. Now, as small businesses struggle to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever to support them and our local economies. Unfortunately, Congress is considering changes to the U.S. electronic payment system, changes that would disproportionately impact rural states like Montana.

Electronic payment systems, including credit cards, have been an invaluable tool during this pandemic, helping businesses survive while staying safe and socially distant. E-commerce doubled in the United States during the pandemic, helping to support our economy during the worst quarter in history.

That is why I am opposed to changes to this system that would jeopardize the ability of small businesses to fully benefit from the use of electronic payments. Several years ago, Congress passed legislation, often referred to as the Durbin Amendment, that changed the way “interchange fees” on debit card transactions were calculated. It has forced consumers and small businesses to pay much, much more. On the other hand, the large big box retailers were able to take advantage of the system and increase their profits. In fact, a report from the University of Chicago Law School estimates that consumers have lost up to $ 25 billion as a result of this change in debit card interchange fees.

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