Power of Prepaid: House Rep. Urges Industry to Build Relationships with Govt., Put Face on Prepaid (June 27, 2013)
June 27, 2013
During the kickoff to the NPBCA’s Power of Prepaid conference in Washington, D.C., this morning U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Mich.) urged the industry to reach out to lawmakers and regulators on the Hill and in their home states, and to share stories about real consumers’ success with prepaid cards. Coming to Washington once a year is not enough, and don’t underestimate staff, said Huizenga, who serves on the House Financial Services Committee. Building relationships with Congressional staffers is very important and Huizenga called on the industry to help lawmakers, who are “drinking information out of a fire hose” better understand how the industry works. He also mentioned that meeting with your U.S. representative in the district—as opposed to in D.C.—might provide the opportunity for a more in-depth discussion. Huizenga recommended inviting state and local government officials and media to your operations to learn about your business firsthand.
To counteract some of the negative stories in the media, Huizenga suggested emphasizing the human element and positive consumer or client experiences with using prepaid products. “You have a story to tell,” Huizenga said. “Have the people that benefit from [your products] tell it.”
In another session, Dennis Shaul, former senior professional staff to former Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), echoed Huizenga’s sentiments about Hill staffers. “The No. 1 error that people who go to the Hill make is not understanding the role of staff,” he said. Shaul also suggested that the industry be honest about its critics. “Make the case as to why [your product] benefits people across the country,” he said. Then explain why you’re good at providing it, what the downside is (if there is one) and what your critics say, he noted. “Don’t pretend there isn’t another side.”