The Atlanta-based American Transaction Processors Coalition positioned itself to be located near a pack of processors in “transaction alley” when it was founded in 2014. A decade later, the trade group represents a broad spectrum of companies in the payments ecosystem and 50,000 workers in the industry.
It follows legislative and regulatory issues at the federal and state levels on behalf of those members, including processor behemoths FIS and Fiserv as well as card giants Visa and Mastercard and technology providers Ingenico and ACI Worldwide. In voicing their views on Capitol Hill and across the country, the coalition seeks to strike a balance between its members’ varied interests, including sometimes divergent views.
In an interview this month, ATPC Executive Director H. West Richards, who is also a co-founder of the coalition, provided the group’s view of major happenings impacting the industry, including with respect to the Federal Reserve’s new real-time payments system FedNow and the proposed Credit Card Competition Act.
Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
PAYMENTS DIVE: What do you see as the most pressing issues for the payments industry in Washington, D.C., at this time?
H. WEST RICHARDS: Artificial intelligence has captured a lot of attention across all industries, including ours, and in the last two months, legislative bodies across the entire G7 have been holding emergency hearings on artificial intelligence. I think we’re trying to formulate a perspective and be helpful. We want to encourage our legislators and regulators to take a bit of an open-minded approach because there are a lot of good things that AI can provide in our space that can be good for consumers. And then of course, on the other side, there could be some landmines. So I think having an even-handed approach is what’s going to be appropriate.
Anything else that you see as an important issue for the industry?
A big one that’s been out there for a while is cybersecurity. Protecting the financial grid is why back in 2020 we formed the ATPC Cyber Council...Cyber is a big concern across all industries, and certainly the payments ecosystem.
What about FedNow? How do your members view that new real-time payments system from the Federal Reserve and its repercussions for the payments industry?
Right now it’s more of a bank play, it’s more business-to-business, than a processor play...It’s essentially a new rail that connects master accounts at the Fed. So, while core processors like ATPC member companies Fiserv and FIS are working with the banks, in the short term you’re not likely to see a bunch of acquirer processors connecting to it, at least at this stage. Maybe some folks figure out a QR code solution where someone can pay with FedNow at the merchant register. That kind of innovation is a wait-and-see kind of thing.
What’s your ATPC take on the Credit Card Competition Act proposal pending in Congress?
Visa and Mastercard are in the lead on this. We have big processors as members. We have merchant acquirers. We have networked brands. Some of our members are closer to the merchants than the financial institutions. So, our position is really one of general neutrality.
New Jersey just passed a law capping card surcharges. What is ATPC’s view of that state-level issue?
This issue has been around for a while. We’re just taking a wait-and-see approach to it. And different states are taking different positions, so there are nuances within the states. So, we’re just keeping an eye on it and as it evolves, I think we’ll start to formulate an approach.