by Mike Lee
On Thursday, the ATM Industry Association responded with a statement taking issue with the campaign, which will award a total of $500,000 — $10,000 each — to 50 eligible U.S.-based small food service owners who opt to go cashless.
Following is the full statement from ATMIA CEO Mike Lee:
By paying these food service owners $10,000 to reduce their customers’ payment choices, Visa Inc has elevated its commercial interests above the public interest in America.
This may seem to Visa like an offer that can’t be refused, but these money “rewards” actually send out a message that the underlying business proposition must be unpalatable to both consumers and merchants when stripped of its $10,000 sweetener.
In the 50th anniversary year of the ATM, ATMIA, by contrast, remains committed to a fair policy of payment choice throughout the world, whereby any citizen can choose to pay for goods and services using a card, mobile wallet, online banking or cash, whichever method is convenient and pleasing for him or her at that particular point in time.
By attempting to reduce payment choice in the U.S., Visa is paving the way towards a Big Brother society of surveillance in which human freedom is gradually eroded by powerful interests intent on diminishing privacy and free choice. One must ask what happened to the guiding principles of the free market, transparent competition and consumer rights.
Cash is still the most universal, popular and convenient form of payment in the world today and to deny the right to use it is an insult to millions of Americans who use cash, as well as a deal-breaker for those who use only cash.
This constitutes digital discrimination and bad industry practice. Societies should cater to all their citizens, including the unbanked, underbanked and the digitally disadvantaged.
Attempting to buy loyalty in this crude manner will never triumph over basic freedom of choice.