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Opinion

Opinion: The Credit Card Competition Act will hurt small businesses

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William Hopson

As a Black small business owner, I’m well aware of what it takes for small, locally-owned businesses to succeed. We’ve had to navigate economic downturns and overcome systemic barriers to keep our doors open. And we’re always working hard to build trust with customers, improve our business operations, and remain competitive in a changing economic landscape. 

Small businesses like mine also have a responsibility to support our employees’ well-being and deliver the exceptional service our customers expect and deserve. One way I am able to juggle all of that is by relying on the benefits provided by the credit card and electronic payment system, which allows me to offer my customers multiple payment options, safely and quickly process transactions, and earn rewards to keep my business costs low. But now the Credit Card Competition Act (CCCA) being considered in the Senate presents a threat to the success of my business. 

Although this bill sounds like it would be a harmless change to the electronic payment system, it’s really just a massive giveaway to big box stores because all of the benefits from the CCCA will go to the mega retailers lobbying Congress to pass this bill. A new report from the University of Miami estimates that small businesses like mine will not see any significant savings if the CCCA becomes law. Meanwhile, the nation’s five largest retailers (Walmart, Amazon, Costco, Kroger, and Home Depot) could expect to see a windfall of about $1.2 billion. 

I’m concerned that the CCCA will take away credit card access from marginalized communities in Colorado. For many families in my community, credit cards often serve as a way to support local businesses and afford their daily expenses. The CCCA will make credit cards with no fees less accessible, and lead to higher interest rates and higher credit standards, putting credit card access out of reach for those who need them most.  

Moreover, the CCCA is a threat to credit access for small businesses like mine. Minority owned small businesses can face a number of hurdles when it comes to securing a traditional loan. Luckily, by relying on loans from our local banks, we can get the financial support we need to get our businesses off the ground. But if the CCCA becomes law, credit unions would lose the revenue they need to extend credit lines to small minority-owned businesses and raise credit standards, making it harder for us to become business owners. 

What’s worse is that the CCCA will take money right out of our pockets. The report out of the University of Miami found that small businesses stand to lose about $1 billion in cash back rewards if this bill becomes law. Losing these cash back rewards would directly hurt our ability to support our employees and reinvest in our business. 

On top of this, the CCCA is a threat to payment security. The current interchange system has been very successful in protecting us from scams and fraud attempts. Last year alone, the interchange system stopped more than $80 billion in fraud attempts. If this bill gets signed into law, banks and credit unions would lose the revenue they use to fund fraud prevention and other security measures. Mega retailers might be able to afford to put their customers’ information in danger, but small businesses like mine don’t have that luxury. 

Big box stores and their lobbyists are pushing Congress to pass this bill under the guise that it will help small businesses and lower costs for consumers, but that’s just not true. We have to protect the growth Black-owned businesses have made, and that starts with policies to empower small businesses to compete in the marketplace, not policies to enrich greedy big box retailers at our expense. Colorado’s congressional delegation must stand against this flawed bill. 

William Hopson is a small business owner in Commerce City, Colorado.