NAFCU Journal January February 2022

15 THE NAFCU JOURNAL January–February 2022 TECHNOLOGY A big focus for NAFCU in the coming year will be technology and the use of cryptocurrency and digital assets. The NCUA requested feedback a few months ago about how credit unions can facilitate use of digital assets, said Kossachev. “Credit unions need to facilitate and embrace technology, including artificial intelligence and machine learning, to provide services to members.” “Our advocacy efforts in 2022 will focus on allowing credit unions to innovate, grow and modernize with investment in technologies that make it easier to serve members,” said Thaler. “Credit unions need to have access to emerging technology that allows them to compete with other financial institutions.” While regulation is a given, Thaler pointed out that “right size regulation that does not give fintechs an unfair, regulatory advantage” is critical if credit unions are going to adopt innovative tools. Furthermore, he noted that unregulated fintechs competing in the financial services space need to be regulated. “We don’t expect significant lawmaking in 2022, and anything that can pass is likely non-controversial,” said Thaler. “Luckily, credit unions enjoy bipartisan support, so everyone needs to continue making lawmakers and their staff aware of the benefits provided by credit unions to members and their communities.” In addition to paying attention to issues, updates and messages in NAFCU’s federal advocacy center on the website, talking with colleagues and staying up-to-date on legislative issues through other sources, credit unions should stand ready to become part of NAFCU’s grassroots advocacy efforts, says Mesack. “We have a great level of grassroots support with our member credit unions and their members, who are willing to write letters, talk to representatives, and more importantly, vote for those who support credit unions’ mission!” CREDIT UNION TAX EXEMPTION With the passage of bills such as the infrastructure bill, which set unprecedented spending levels, the search for ways to pay for new legislation raises concern about the protection of the credit union tax exemption, said Thaler. “It is important for credit unions not to be hampered by efforts to raise revenue, at the same time proposed regulations may add new costs and burdens to credit union operations,” he said. “We’ll continue to monitor this issue closely.” INTERCHANGE FEES The ongoing battle about interchange fees will continue into 2022, said Thaler. Retailers continue to demand for regulation of interchange fees for credit and debit card transactions, and the financial industry continues to note the value of the current payments system. The fees cover the financial institutions’ assumption of risk for the “loans” that enable consumers to purchase products from retailers when they may not have the cash and facilitate easier payment to merchants, as well as enhanced security for financial transactions. “We have a concern about efforts to put caps on fees that will place an undue burden on all financial institutions at the same time more data security and privacy protections are needed,” said Thaler.