Week ahead: Amazon Prime Day, NCUA board meeting

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Credit unions’ card portfolios could get an additional surge of activity this week as Amazon’s annual Prime Day takes place on Tuesday and Wednesday. The event was moved from mid-summer to the fall due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Even before Prime Day, consumers were shopping more at the online retailer because of the pandemic. New data from CO-OP Financial Services shows credit union members’ Amazon transactions up by double digits during September, compared to the same period last year. Transaction volumes for credit cards rose by 50%, with transaction amounts up by 59%. Debit saw more modest increases, with transactions up 17% while purchase amounts rose 19%.

Credit unions have historically seen an increase in card usage from Prime Day spending, though when news of this year’s Prime Day delay first broke there were questions about whether that would be the case this year. The credit union service organization PSCU reported a 46% lift in Amazon purchases by credit union members during Prime Day last year. With some retailers urging consumers to start their holiday shopping early due to supply chain concerns, this year’s event could mark an earlier-than-usual start to the holiday shopping season.

With the general election just three weeks away, the House and Senate are not in session, as most lawmakers are campaigning in their home districts. The exception to that is the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is holding confirmation hearings this week for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett. The partisan battle over her nomination, combined with the legislative calendar, could hold up Senate confirmation for Kyle Hauptman, President Trump’s latest nominee to the National Credit Union Administration board.

That means board member Mark McWatters will once again take part in the regulator’s monthly open board meeting, scheduled to be held remotely on Thursday morning and streamed live on the agency’s website. The agenda this month includes a briefing on cybersecurity — fitting, given October’s status as Cybersecurity Awareness Month.

While the agenda posted online offers few details, the agency traditionally touches on its ongoing push for third-party vendor oversight when discussing cybersecurity, a request much of the industry continues to push back against and that lawmakers continue to disregard, despite several years of NCUA asking for broader powers in that regard.

The board will also issue a final rule regarding corporate credit unions. The agency has already issued a proposal that aims to simplify governing policies for corporates, along with changing investment rules surrounding CUSOs and expanding who can serve on a corporate’s board. Some who read the rule, however, suggested NCUA’s plans could stifle innovation in the industry and slow down development of new technologies credit unions need to compete.

Thursday’s meeting is also expected to include a proposed rule regarding derivatives and a request for information on supervisory guidance review and improving communications form the agency.

The board's meeting will also coincide with International Credit Union Day, a global event celebrating the CU movement and its commitment to the "people helping people" philosophy. Institutions across the country have planned virtual and in-person events to celebrate the industry, including philanthropic giving, community service, one-day-only loan promotions and more.

This story was updated at 12:28 P.M. on Oct. 13, 2020.

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Credit cards Debit cards Amazon NCUA Corporate credit unions Cyber security