‘Leave card requirement up to business’


The Saipan Chamber of Commerce believes that businesses should be allowed to decide whether or not they should accept transactions through debit or credit cards and cash.

In a Sept. 23, 2019, letter from Chamber president Velma Palacios, she wrote to Rep. Joseph “Lee Pan” Guerrero (R-Saipan) that the organization believes that the decision to transact through debit or credit cards should be at the discretion of the business, not a mandate of the law.

Palacios was commenting on Rep. Luis “L.J.” John Castro’s (R-Saipan) House Bill 21-75, which seeks to require businesses to offer credit or debit card transactions, along with cash, as a method to transact business.

The legislation cited the move the increase tax enforcement and to further regulate sales reports at the convenience of the government.

“…Implementation of this bill would negatively impact small businesses by forcing them to operate and maintain a credit card system and pay fees to credit card [and] debit card companies,” Palacios wrote in her comment on the bill.

She further pointed out that credit cards are ultimately riskier for businesses since consumers can take advantage of business establishments through fraud, and should therefore be able to choose to participate in the “riskier commerce exchange.”

She added that the responsibility of maintaining data security when accepting credit cards also fall on the business owner, noting that there is a cost to maintain data security, further reiterating her point of providing businesses with the option to participate.

Citing the Coinage Act of 1965, Section 31 U.S.C. 5103, Palacios noted that credit cards are not recognized as legal tender, or means of payment recognized by law.

The law states that only U.S. coins and currency are considered legal tender for all debts, public charges, taxes, and dues.

“We believe businesses should continue to follow U.S. law and accept legal tender, but not forced to accept transactions that may negatively impact their businesses,” she said.

The House of Representatives had debated at their Oct. 28, 2019, session whether they would even take up H.B. 21-75 on the House floor since there was opposition from the public. Ultimately, the House adopted the committee report, and will be discussing the legislation on the House floor in a future House session.

Erwin Encinares | Reporter
Erwin Charles Tan Encinares holds a bachelor’s degree from the Chiang Kai Shek College and has covered a wide spectrum of assignments for the Saipan Tribune. Encinares is the paper’s political reporter.
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