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Posted: Dec 14, 2017
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It’s imperative for credit unions to understand interchange – the biggest component of non-interest income.

One of the most misunderstood, and possibly the most misaligned topic in the credit and debit card world is interchange. At a summary, it is a fee paid by a merchant, paid to the issuer, each time a credit or debit cardholder uses a card, in a store or online. The fee covers the cost of processing the credit or debit card; for a credit transaction the fee reimburses the issuer for the interest on carrying the balance during the cardholder’s debt repayment grace period; and the fee is intended to address the cost for zero fraud liability, which reimburses the cardholder in case of fraud. In addition, higher interchange is charged for signature rewards credit cards, to cover the cost of additional cardholder benefits such as cash back or auto rental collision damage waiver. The practice of a merchant paying the issuer interchange was established in 1971, when Bank Americard set 1.95% as the standard rate as compensation for the risk of card-issuing banks. Interchange is also paid to the ATM owner each time a cardholder gets cash out. Seems simple enough, but there’s much more complexity to it.
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Posted: Dec 1, 2017
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Author: Lou Grilli

[Editor's Note: This article was previously published on “Anthem”, the online News & Info site of the Northwest Credit Union Association, and has been modified.]

When members think about services provided by their credit union, they might first think about their share draft account, a debit card, bill pay, loans, and credit cards - basic services offered by almost all financial institutions. But, something new is happening when it comes to these services. No, not new services, but rather something called “banking on the fringes.”

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Posted: Nov 10, 2017
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Author: Lou Grilli

Apple joins a growing list of ways friends and family can send money to each other. Will Apple find success with their version?

Apple launched its person-to-person (P2P) payments service, Apple Pay Cash, riding on top of Apple’s iMessage, thereby joining a long list of other tech companies who also offer P2P, including PayPal, Square, Venmo, Facebook, Google, SnapChat, Zelle, PopMoney, and several others. With this service, Apple is hoping to generate new P2P users in a demographic that typically shied away from P2P apps more popular with younger users, and possibly spur increased use of Apple Pay, the tap-to-pay capability of iPhones and Apple Watches.
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Posted: Nov 9, 2017
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A recent CNN Money article, Millennials Aren’t Opening Credit Cards. That’s a Mistake, caught my eye.   While the article does talk about the benefits for Millennials to open a credit card such as building a credit score, earning rewards, and fraud protection, it also mentions that the Card Act made it harder for Millennials to open credit cards.  The Card Act didn’t make it harder for Millennials (or other generations) to open credit cards, issuers did by their interpretation of the Card Act requirement of “proof of ability to pay”. 

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Posted: Nov 3, 2017
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Author: Lou Grilli

Another way Credit Unions can keep members happy, reduce declines, and keep cards top-of-wallet.

The ability for an issuer to approve a “Partial Authorization” has been available since 2005, yet most issuers and merchants still don’t take advantage of it. As a result, transactions on debit, prepaid, and gift cards frequently get declined, resulting in frustrated cardholders, and lost sales. 

Simply put, a Partial Authorization occurs when an authorization request for a card presented to a merchant is attempted for the full amount of the transaction and, if there are not enough funds in the debit or prepaid or gift account available to cover the full amount, the authorization is approved for the amount available. This allows the cardholder to use the available amount in the account, and for the merchant to obtain an additional form of payment for the difference. For non-reloadable gift Cards, the issuers will also return a card balance which will be printed on the receipt. Partial Authorization keeps transactions alive without the merchant telling a customer it has been declined and allows the cardholder to pay the remaining amount with another form of payment.

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