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Modern Payment Tools Assisted in Delivering Billions in Stimulus Dollars

Jodie Kelley, CEO of ETA, testified on the role of the payments industry in distributing stimulus funds.  

June 11, 2020 – Washington, D.C. –Today, Jodie Kelley, CEO of the Electronic Transactions Association (ETA), testified before the House Financial Services Committee Task Force on Financial Technology on the role of the modern payments industry in delivering stimulus dollars during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“The unprecedented challenges caused by the pandemic have appropriately caused policymakers not only to move quickly to address the immediate crisis but also to ask how we can position ourselves to do even better in the future. And that is a particularly important question when it comes to those who are most vulnerable,” Kelley said. “When the CARES Act became law and state and federal policymakers began to look for ways to get stimulus money to consumers and businesses as quickly and securely as possible, ETA members immediately offered the tools of the modern payments industry to help to deliver stimulus money to Americans.”

In her written remarks, Kelley highlighted how the pandemic has brought a sharp focus on the importance of access to affordable and secure payments and financial services. Digital payments products are being deployed today to assist with the delivery of the (as of June 6) $266.8 billion in EIP and $511 billion in PPP, along with the $260 billion in unemployment insurance allocated under the CARES Act. 

General Purpose Reloadable Prepaid Cards

For those Americans without a bank account, many of whom are among the most vulnerable, funds are being disbursed, in part, on general purpose reloadable prepaid cards (prepaid). Specifically, states are currently delivering the unemployment benefits expanded in the CARES Act electronically using prepaid cards. Additionally, the Treasury Department and the Social Security Administration turned, in part, to two long-standing prepaid card programs - Direct Express and US Debit - to distribute over $9 billion in EIP’s to 5.7 million Americans.

P2P Services

Peer-to-peer payment systems — also known as P2P payments or money transfer apps – are also distributing stimulus dollars. While final numbers are not yet available, it is estimated that hundreds of thousands of EIP stimulus dollars were sent to P2P accounts directly.  P2P services — like PayPal, Venmo, Zelle, and Cash App –  thus made it possible for individuals to securely and quickly receive stimulus money and then immediately use it to make needed purchases, or transfer money to a family member or friend.

Distributing Stimulus to Small Businesses

ETA members - both traditional and Fintech participants - used modern lending tools to help the Small Business Association process and disburse $659 billion in Paycheck Protection Plan loans.   As of June 6, the SBA disbursed $511 billion to over 4.5 million businesses.

Mobile Wallets, Contactless Payments and COVID-19

The use of contactless payment methods has risen dramatically during the pandemic because they allow consumers to pay without touching anything other than their own card or phone. 

Stimulus dollars sent to prepaid cards or bank accounts linked to digital wallets allow consumers to not only use their funds easily, but also securely through the use of biometrics and PINs to unlock a phone and tokenization of transactions enabled through a mobile wallet.

A recent Mastercard Global Consumer study found that between February and March, contactless transactions grew twice as fast as non-contactless transactions in grocery and drug stores. Visa reports that from March 2019 to March 2020, there has been a 150% increase in contactless payments.

“ETA members are already working on the next generation of digital payment tools and services,” stated Kelley. “We are keenly mindful of how important that is, and proud that we are successfully helping to address this critical need.”

About ETA

The Electronic Transactions Association (ETA) is the global trade association representing more than 500 payments and technology companies. ETA members make commerce possible by processing more than $21 trillion in purchases worldwide and deploying payments innovation to merchants and consumers.

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